Title: Talk: Mandarin Chinese
By: Yu Feixia, Alwena Lamping, BBC Active Book/CD Pack
There are reasons aplenty why Mandarin might be an attractive language to learn for youngsters and adults alike, not least as such a high proportion of the world’s population speak a form of the language. And yet as someone with a background in learning European languages, the task of learning Mandarin - with its different writing system and its lack of obvious similarities with other languages - seems somewhat daunting. Further, with so much material on Mandarin available, another daunting task is choosing appropriate material to learn the language. One resource out there is the BBC series Talk: Mandarin, a highly accessible little guide book / work book accompanied by two CDs. Whilst this programme is by no means the magic solution to the task of learning Mandarin, if you use the guide as suggested, you find that you’re picking up key phrases quickly. Although there is some information about Chinese characters and culture, as the name of the guide suggests the focus is on talk and the programme is designed to give confidence to the learner in this area. The book and CDs work closely together and soon after starting the course, the learner should be able to conduct a brief conversation in Mandarin. By the end of the course, the learner could confidently order a meal, navigate their way round the town, check into a hotel and buy train tickets in Mandarin. As the CD includes plenty of target language, the CD is a helpful tool in its own right as listening practice. The end of chapter summaries are a good self-check and the book comes complete with answers and a glossary, so the learners need never feel out of their comfort zone. As an introduction to Mandarin, this is an excellent guide and would work well as a small group study or a lunchtime club. Many may think of learning Mandarin as a daunting task but this guide truly helps the learner to “talk” Mandarin and makes the task seem much less daunting after all.
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