The Best Chinese Textbooks
09 Apr 2006
So now that I’m working on the academic side of ChinesePod one of the first things I want to do is start expanding the Chinese pedagogy resource library. There are all kinds of great resources out there, but what I want to focus on first is the more complete sets intended for formal education. I want to collect the best Chinese textbooks.
When I first began studying Chinese at University of Florida in 1998, we used a series by Yale the first year (I’m not sure which textbook it was, exactly). I don’t remember being overly impressed with it. The second year the Chinese program switched over to Integrated Chinese, which I liked a lot better. Unfortunately, I only had room in my schedule for one semester of second year Chinese. After arriving in China, I was even more impressed with Integrated Chinese because I discovered that everything in the textbook was immediately useful. That is really saying a lot. [See also my full review of Integrated Chinese (Level 2).]
My only other formal Chinese instruction happened in 2003, when I attended “advanced” (upper intermediate, really) classes at Zhejiang University of Technology for one semester in preparation for the HSK. The textbooks I used for that were pretty forgettable.
Bottom line: I haven’t had very much experience with Chinese textbooks, but now I need to know which ones are good. I mean the ones that start from the beginning and go all the way through to intermediate or advanced level.
I stopped by Chinese Forums, which is always a good place to start for academic Chinese questions. People there seemed to like Chinese Made Easier (Shaanxi Normal University Press) and New Practical Chinese Reader (Beijing Language & Culture University Press). A Chinese Forums member named kudra even posted a list of 25 texts used in American universities’ Chinese programs. Seriously useful stuff.
Still, I would really like to hear from my readers. I know that many of you have far more experience formally studying Chinese than I do. Which Chinese textbooks are the best?