Fundamental Written Chinese
384pp. June 2009
Fundamental Written Chinese
Author: Yao, Nora; Lee, Margaret; Sanders, Robert;
Accompanying MP3 audio files are available for download:
Streaming RealAudio files are forthcoming.

Fundamental Written Chinese
teaches both mastery of individual characters and reading comprehension. It introduces characters gradually, moving from simple independent characters to more complex compound ones. How characters are organized and constructed is taught through the liberal use of charts that display the structural and organizational regularities of each character, that is, its radical, phonetic component, shared graphic components, stroke order, and principles of proportion. This knowledge is then reinforced by exercises at the end of each chapter that require students to draw on the compositional information presented in the charts.

Reading skills are taught through written passages that are accompanied by questions and exercises. Chapters begin with a reading passage and end with one or two shorter supplementary passages. Because words in Chinese are often composed of two different characters and because the optimum method for introducing new characters requires limiting the number of new radicals and structurally unrelated characters that can appear in any one character, many of the written texts in Fundamental Written Chinese make limited use of a Hanyu Pinyin-plus-character system of writing. This makes it possible for the text to remain faithful to a very controlled approach to character learning while allowing students to read passages that are within the scope of their abilities in spoken Chinese.

The authors of Fundamental Written Chinese and its accompanying text, Fundamental Spoken Chinese, treat written and spoken language as two different but related systems that are most effectively learned by delinking the sequence in which the particulars of each system is taught. Such an approach insures that reading and writing skills are firmly grounded in the spoken vocabulary and grammar previously learned. Both volumes are designed to provide students with a systematic, knowledge-based approach to speaking, listening, reading, and writing Chinese.

185 illus.

"Learners of Chinese will find [Fundamental Spoken Chinese and Fundamental Written Chinese,] . . . which can be used together or separately, helpful in that they provide clear and straightforward explanations about Chinese grammar points and an informative analysis of Chinese characters. As a result, [they make] the teacher’s job much easier." —Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (73, 2010)

"The course set out in Fundamental Spoken Chinese and Fundamental Written Chinese provides a thorough training in all the skills that a learner needs to reach a basic level of proficiency in Mandarin Chinese as well as a solid foundation for more advanced study. Fundamental Spoken Chinese is marvelously executed. The explanations of grammar and usage are exceptionally clear, the best I’ve ever seen in a textbook. The charts used to illustrate grammatical constructions are easy to follow, and the examples are well chosen for maximal clarity. The dialogues are naturalistic and well keyed to everyday situations, as is the vocabulary. Fundamental Written Chinese has many of the same virtues as its companion volume. Like Fundamental Spoken Chinese, Fundamental Written Chinese not only teaches the content of the lesson but also inculcates habits essential for further learning. The emphasis on explaining characters explicitly in terms of radicals and phonetics is an example of the kind of approach that makes for successful advanced learners. The two books are designed to be flexible so that teachers of various approaches can use them either to introduce the spoken and written skills simultaneously or to introduce writing after the spoken language has progressed to a certain level. Teachers and learners are provided with all the basic tools needed in one well-designed package." —Mark Hansell, Carleton College

Author: Yao, Nora; Lee, Margaret; Sanders, Robert;
Nora Yao is head tutor in the School of Asian Studies and director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Auckland. Margaret Lee is senior tutor at the University of Auckland. Robert Sanders is senior lecturer in Chinese at the University of Auckland.
Read the table of contents (PDF) and/or Chapter 1 (PDF).