Integrated Chinese (Level 1)

20 Nov 2003

Integrated Chinese (Level 1)

by Tao-chung Yao and Yuehua Liu (Cheng & Tsui Company, 1997)

Review by: John Pasden

I didn’t use this book, but if it’s at all as good as Level 2 of the same series, then it’s a solid book. It has a good introduction with full explanation not only of tones, but of the phonetics of the Chinese language and how pinyin relates to it. This is important because pinyin is not a completely logical or consistent system.

The book follows the typical “new vocabulary, dialogue, grammar explanations, drills” pattern, but it does a good job of it. The grammar and vocabulary introduced are logical, useful, and functional. I have seen many books that introduce ridiculously difficult Chinese early on. This book doesn’t.

I see that this book comes in both traditional and simplified versions. (Keep in mind that most of mainland China uses simplified characters; Hong Kong and Taiwan use traditional characters.)

I highly recommend this book. I have never seen it for sale in mainland China.

For a teacher’s viewpoint, don’t miss Prince Roy’s guest review of this series.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I found the vocabulary very useful and accessible. I found the pronounciation sections less than useless — I was confused by some of their notes about the pinyin vowel combinations. I agree with Roy’s assessment that this book is somewhat less than communicative — their sections on grammar are light and fairly vague, which means you have to have a teacher handy to really learn the points (which you probably need anyhow); however I found the pictures very very entertaining and liked the paperback-ness of the book as it facilitated carrying around and studying from. The book could use a fair amount of editing — words in the character workbook chapters don’t always sync up to the chapters in the textbook, and the questions in the workbook likewise sometimes rely on words that haven’t been introduced yet (one word, “ben3”, isn’t even in the glossary or any of the vocabulary lists, though often used in the workbook). One of the words (I think “du”, it’s the fifth one) in the title is mentioned only once, seemingly by accident, in the textbook proper, which seems to me like bad form. I found it difficult to search the glossary for a word I knew the meaning of but not the pronounciation. If supported by a good teacher, I think this book is OK, but I am left with a feeling of shoddiness by this book’s execution.

  2. […] Integrated Chinese: Level 1 (by me) […]

  3. That’s the text that I used for Mandarin 101 and 102 (and I know they use it for 2nd year as well), and I found it very useful and practical. I took the second book with me when I went to China and again found it useful. I was able to actually use all of the vocab (a good thing for a language text!), and senarios (restaurant, post office, store, etc.)
    The only thing I found annoying in the first edition is that sometimes there were the odd traditional character in the middle of a simplified character text.

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