Category Archives: Chinese

Pera Pera’s Top 10 Books for Learning Chinese

大家好!The good folks over at Pera Pera listed their top ten favorite books for learning Chinese. I haven’t used any of the ten personally, but I certainly have used and benefited greatly from Pera Pera’s free Firefox add-on (a sweet, Chinese-English-Pinyin pop-up dictionary). Based solely on that positive experience alone, I am willing to bet their suggestions are helpful. (I plan to write soon about how I use the Pera Pera dictionary in my sermon-prep workflow.) For now, check out Pera Pera’s recommended reading for learning Chinese:

Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide

If you buy only one book for Chinese, get this one. Easily the best book I have found for everything. It is split into two parts, Part A for the structure of Chinese and explaining all the grammatical features, and Part B for situational Chinese like how to describe things etc. Explanations are solid, provides tons of example sentences and everything is in Simplified and Traditional characters.

Practical Audio-visual Chinese (Traditional)

My friend in Taiwan swears by this series and he used this at his language school when he studied in Taiwan. He was on book 3 and was at a very impressive level of Chinese. Comes with CDs and has workbooks if you want them. Only Traditional characters and starts with teaching you Zhuyin, but also has all the sentences in Pinyin as well. I am on book 3 now also and have to say it is my favorite course book.

Colloquial Chinese: The Complete Course for Beginners

This was actually the first book I used for Chinese that a friend recommended when I was starting out. A solid beginner course that is lesson based and comes with CDs. Spent a good bit of time with the pronunciation using this one. Another good option if you are looking for a starter course. Also has an intermediate book as well in the series. New Practical Chinese Reader: Textbook 1

If you want more of a course-type book this series is a good introduction. I did the first book in their series using Simplified Characters. Concise and nicely organized. Would recommend it as your first introduction to Chinese and Chinese characters. Especially good if you like the dialog lesson format. Comes with CDs.

Conversational Chinese 301

Bought this one when I was in China. It goes at a faster pace than the above course, but would still say it is good for beginners. Either one of these are a good introduction course. No CD though, so take that into consideration. The Michel Thomas Method: Speak Mandarin Chinese For Beginners

For working on speaking this is probably the best starter course. Harold Goodman does a good job of introducing the tones with concept of colors as an aid for remembering them. I love the Michel Thomas method and have used this series for other languages as well (French, Russian and German!).

Pimsleur Chinese

Pimsleur courses tend to be a little slow for my tastes, but if you are looking to learn a language while exercising or driving this would be the one to get. If you are sitting down and can focus, Michel Method is better and will get you to think more about what you are saying, while Pimsleur kind of hypnotizes you into memorizing, and that’s better than nothing when you cant devote all of you attention.

Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters

I don’t actually own this book but I’m a big fan of the method and used it to learn all the Kanji in Japanese with the original “Remembering the Kanji” book by the same author (see my Japanese book reviews). Comes in Simplified or Traditional versions.

Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters

Since I did Japanese before Chinese, I had already done my time learning 2000 characters, so I don’t actually own this one either. My friends at a language school love it though, and the method sounds very similar to the “Remembering the Hanzi” mnemonic system. So I would just pick either one and stick with it.

Chinese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide

A good overview of the Chinese language. I personally would buy the Modern Chinese Grammar over this one if I could only choose one, but that one can be intimidating since it is rather thick and does read a bit like a textbook with alot of explanations using grammatical terms. If that puts you off and you want a gentler overview of Chinese, but still with solid content, I would recommend this one.

By Francis Campbell. Originally Posted at http://www.perapera.org/best-10-books-for-learning-chinese/

Chinese New Year Expressions: 新年快乐

Line Dictionary’s List of Chinese New Year Sayings : 新年快乐.

I found this during my study this morning (for a sermon in Chinese, Sunday), and I thought some of you other Chinese students might benefit from it as well.

Example (but Line’s site has audio):

祝新年快乐,新年幸福。

Zhù jiérì kuàilè, xīnnián xìngfú.

Wishing you happiness during the holidays and throughout the New Year.

Happy New Year!

Chinese-American Year of the (Wild) Horses: Blessings and a Tribute

The Chinese Year of the Horse has recently begun, and the next time this could  happen would be in twelve years. So, many who were born in a Year of the Horse (at least 12 years ago) are very excited about 2014.  To learn more about the Chinese Zodiac, you can Travel China Guide or Google(v.) it.

Horses are considered by some Chinese as “energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able.” I borrowed those adjectives from Travel China Guide because of all the ways I’ve heard horses described tonight, I like these the most, particularly the latter two: intelligent and able.  “Able” in my mind connotes humility to accompany one’s abilities. Perhaps, though, Americans  primarily see horses as wild and free-spirited. All good things.

Tonight, at Memphis’ Chinese New Year celebration hosted by the Greater Memphis United Chinese Association, the opening speaker said this is a year many people will make big decisions and changes for their lives. Whatever you believe about the Chinese Zodiac and the Year of the Horse, I hope you have an amazing year with lots of joyful surprises.

While I was at the show tonight (which was awesome–it really was one of the most well-ran and entertaining New Year shows I’ve ever seen!), I was thinking about the meaning of the year and the fact that my awesome wife “is a horse.” All of a sudden, I remembered a song I used to love to listen to and play along with back in the days that I was really “into” songwriting.

I  love a well written song. One of my favorites is by Ray LaMontagne: “All the Wild Horses.” It’s a tune to listen to with eyes closed, meditating on the lyrics. I found a nice video put together and shared by Sandy Elmore, the woman behind the blog, Wild in the Pryors. She captured some beautiful images of the wild horses up on Pryor Pountain in Montana. The video looks great, and I’m glad it includes Ray’s song.

The lyrics mostly go like this:

“All the wild horses–

all the wild horses, tethered with tears in their eyes–

May no man’s touch ever tame you.

May no man’s reigns ever chain you,

and may no man’s weight

every lay freight your soul.

And as for the clouds,

just let them roll.

Roll away, roll away.”

May your dark clouds roll away and our shared Year of the Horse 2014 be blessed with freedom in Christ.

© Clint Boyd 2014

Notes for Reading Philippians 2:1-5 in Chinese

Well, Sam keeps putting me on the list to serve in the Chinese service at Highland, so I’m forced to stretch.

I’m pretty excited about this Sunday’s service. I’m supposed to read Philippians 2:1-5 and pray. Though I always feel inadequate for this kind of ministry, I’m thankful for the opportunity.

Often I use a Bible that has English, 汉字,and pīnyīn(transliteration of the sounds of Chinese characters), which Beng Chuan Tan gave to me, but this time, because the Powerpoint has the scripture in a different Chinese translation, the reading comes from notes.

I copy/pasted their preferred Chinese translation into Microsoft Word, and thankfully, I know at least half of the characters, so I’m just adding pīnyīn and definitions to the words I’m still learning.

Mostly because I love this chapter of Philippians and am in sharing kind of mood, I want to share what I’m using to read tomorrow. This aims not to glorify me but rather to encourage others struggling to learn a language, especially missionaries. If these notes reveal anything of myself it is my weakness, not strength. Also, the name of this blog comes from the eighth verse in the same chapter of Philippians.

philip 2 chinese