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Compare NPCR and BOYA (Books 1-3)


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We are just about to finish NPCR Book 1 at a private language school in Beijing. We study 4 hours a day, but all of us have families and/or jobs, so we don't do as much homework as those of you at university programmes.

I really enjoyed this book, I found the lessons were organised in a way that maximised retention and taught all the necessary skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing). The focus on character parts in the writing is fabulous as are the exercises which I feel really drill in the target vocabulary without being too boring.

The original plan of our class was to do NPCR Book 1-2/3, then move to Boya.

The teacher has now suggested we can move to Boya right after NPCR Book 1.

We also have read the Chinese Breeze Graded Readers, 300 Words, to help us on reading, these are great (thanks to Chinese-Forums for introducing these... I read about it here, and then we used it in class and other classes bought them too!)! The teacher suggested because we enjoy reading, that it might be best to go to Boya which has more reading and less dialogues than NPCR.

I know a lot of you have used both of these books, and I was wondering what your experience is and which book you think would be the best to proceed with. Any comparisons of the books would be super helpful!

Thank you so much!

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I would say stick with NPCR - you're already finding it useful, and while a bit of extra reading might be fun as a supplement - especially if you're getting that 'Wow, i can read CHINESE!' buzz - it could get dull if the balance of the class shifts permanently towards reading. And presumably you want to end up with a balanced skill set, rather than being better at somethings than others.

(thanks to Chinese-Forums for introducing these... I read about it here, and then we used it in class and other classes bought them too!)!

Don't forget to return the favour and tell all the students and teachers about us:wink:

Edited by roddy
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Thanks Roddy - actually, I already showed the director of the school Chinese-forums.com and have told my teachers and classmates about how useful the site it!

How would you compare NPCR and Boya? What are their differences/strengths/weaknesses?

And, yes, I totally have the 'reading buzz' I love reading at the moment... (having lived in Asia and spoken Mandarin for over 10 years, it is great to read a little bit finally!)

Thanks :)

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I don't know Boya, and don't know NPCR very well, so I wouldn't want to comment on the actual books. I was taking more of an 'it ain't broke, don't fix it' view . . .

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I don't know about boya either, but I've finished the whole NPCR set and was very satisfied with it.

I think that it's a good approach to stick to a good textbook that covers all bases (doesn't have to be NPCR, but NPCR is such a book), and then supplement with additional listening and reading material, and conversations as you see fit.

For listening, there are podcasts and TV shows, and for reading, I love comic books! It was the perfect tool for me to bridge that gap between being a learner just starting to read stuff that wasn't in a textbook and actually reading real books.

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I've worked with both sets of these books. I did NPCR 1 - 5 and then both the Boya Intermediate volumes. I'm currently working on the first of three Boya advanced volumes.

I'd say stick with the NPCR. The dialogues/lessons are practical and easy to follow. I'm not sure about the lower level Boya's, but the higher levels are focused almost entirely on written/literary Chinese and have very little emphasis on 口语. At your stage you need more of 口语 and less 书面语.

Perhaps someone who has worked/looked at both levels could give a better suggestion.

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cellofallon

I'm going to make a few arguments for the <> set:

1. The layout is very good and clear making use of tables and shading to help comprehension.

2. For assessment of reading skills it uses some known strategies such practising your scanning and skimming skills. For example, read a text and fill in a chart of table.(as can be seen in the blue Zhun Zhong ji (Pre-Intermediate)

It is heavy on the textual side and its topics seem no better than <>, but I do think it has some merit. Your class should get together and discuss what your learnng goals are. If they are conversation, then stick with the NPCR that more slowly integrates texts into lessons. If your goals are to achieve a higher reading skill, then go with BOYA. But let's not forget that the most important factor is THE TEACHER. If they thought beyond the book, they should supplement their lessons with materials of their own devising specific to you and your classmate's learning needs and goals. This is necessary as no book is perfect. Most textbooks feature strange characters called "Dawei", and "Mali" operating these very strange de-sexualised, focused on study and acceptable leisure pursuits lives. (Although rather shockingly at the end of <> a male Chinese person suggests to a male Anglo that he should get a Chinese girlfriend to help his Chinese - I won't go into an analysis of the multiple meanings that can be read into that, I'm sure you can extrapolate for yourself).

On the whole textbooks don't prepare the learner for being ripped off, dealing with unco-operative policemen while you try and register and the other mundane and practical real life situations, so your teacher is the true source of 'real" language and you may very well find that your best learning comes from the break aways from the book where you can ask "how do I say this in Chinese..."

I suggest you take a look at the BOYA chu ji set (in green), say book II or III and see what you think. English translations are at the back for each dialogue and llustrations showing stroke order of character is nice and big. But ultimately don't forget to make the most of your best teaching aid - your teacher.:wink:

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Most textbooks feature strange characters called "Dawei", and "Mali" operating these very strange de-sexualised, focused on study and acceptable leisure pursuits lives. (Although rather shockingly at the end of <> a male Chinese person suggests to a male Anglo that he should get a Chinese girlfriend to help his Chinese - I won't go into an analysis of the multiple meanings that can be read into that, I'm sure you can extrapolate for yourself).

In the original PCR, didn't the main male character dump his foreign girlfriend for her girlfriend? And, isn't their child, the 混血儿, the main character of the NPCR?

You can't go wrong with a textbook series that also teaches plot. Scandalous. :)

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haha - yes the saga of Ma Da Wei and Ding Li Bo is a laugh... but to give the authors a lot of credit, books I saw 10 years ago were all about asking for cigarettes in chapter 1 or 2. Actually, I really like NPCR, and at least we all get a good laugh from the dialogues - which makes them easier to remember too!

The issue the teacher raised was that the future NPCR books continue to use dialogues rather than texts, and she felt that for our class texts would be better and this is why she is considering Boya earlier than originally planned. Our class, compared to the other similar level class, is much more focused on reading and writing - which this teacher is very good at, and the students all desire for various reasons.

(In my case it is because my speaking is much better than my reading and writing, and I decided to study to finally learn to read and write!)

She's an excellent teacher, the concern I will raise with her is that she might not always be our teacher (the school rotates teachers and classes) and if our class is on a different book than other classes, it will be a problem if we change classes (which happens, for example, when I go away for 2-3 weeks at the holidays, I would then return to the slightly lower level class since I missed 2-3 weeks).

Thank you very much for the comments on Boya, they are very helpful, it does sound like a good book. I have never seen the lower level ones, so I need to actually get my hands on one and compare it to NPCR.

If we change, I'll let you know and compare them here for the benefit of others.

Thanks again!

Any more comments totally welcome, keep them coming :)

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The issue the teacher raised was that the future NPCR books continue to use dialogues rather than texts

It's not that bad. The further you go with NPCR, the more dialogues get displaced by texts.

In the second book, you get two dialogues per lesson, and a short essay. In the third book, it's two dialogues and a relatively long essay (about a page). In the fourth, it's one dialogue and two essays, and the 5th one is all about texts, no dialogues at all.

And while I hate the contrived and fake storylines in most textbooks, some of the ones in NPCR are quite funny. Listening to Xiaoyun explain the workings of the modern economy (you borrow, and then you borrow some more, and then you borrow to pay off that borrowed, and so on) to her ultra-old-fashioned mother (you have to suffer! work hard! and struggle! and suffer) was one of the most enjoyable ways to introduce the generation gap I've seen.

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The further you go with NPCR, the more dialogues get displaced by texts.

I think that the more advanced any textbook gets the more it will focus on reading and exposure to low-frequency words (words that we rarely use).

If your class is, now or in the future, looking to work entirely on spoken Chinese, you're best to find a series that does just that. Both NPCR and Boya at the higher levels start working more on reading and less on speaking.

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cellofallon

"In the original PCR, didn't the main male character dump his foreign girlfriend for her girlfriend? And, isn't their child, the 混血儿, the main character of the NPCR?"

Ah yes, I was pretty shocked when I heard this from a fellow learner. I have the original PCR volumes 1-4 and had got to know Gubo (the male character) and Palanka (the Western girl) pretty well. In vol 2 even their parents Bulang Xiansheng and Bulang Taitai come to visit them in China and the threesome of Gubo, Palanka, and their Chinese exchange student who steals Gubo's affections happily show the parents around the modernising yet strongly socialist wonderous places that China has to offer (such as the railway run by children). So to hear that by vol 5 or 6 a break up, get together and a baby had appeared, well, I was pretty upset as you can imagine!:wink: Most textbooks are pretty stagnent when it comes to plot and character development, so you got o love one that deals with betrayal and break-ups. Do you think Gubo fancied the Chinese Language exchange student all the time?

Has anyone read vols 5 and 6 of the PCR? How does the textbook deal with the breakup and subsequent getting together. Does Palanka threaten suicide? Does she threaten the Chinese language partner? How does Gubo break the news to Palanka? In your new word list to you get vocab such as "lying bastard" and "backstabbing cow"? Do you see any conflict or passion at all, or does everybody happily accept the situation? Anyone know?

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I liked books 1-4 of NPCR a lot more than book 5.

The format is pretty good in they go main text, reading, dialogue, then listening comprehension, plus the quality of the recordings and font used in the book are outstanding.

My problems are with content. Too much obscure words for places, foods, etc. cluttering the texts that nobody as a 3rd year student is going to remember or use once they finish the chapter. I know it's useful to be able to work thru something with unfamiliar words in it but the amount in this textbook just makes for less efficient learning IMO.

I believe what students need to turn the corner at the upper intermediate level is practice, practice, practice with the high frequency words and grammar patterns they've learned. Throw in some lower frequency to make the content flow or make sense but learning shouldn't be about huge vocabulary lists for each chapter just for the sake of calling it a more advanced book. Woo hoo I can (temporarily) talk in Chinese about a compressed bowl shaped chunk of tea leaves or describe correctly identify the word for magpie.

I also don't like having all the grammar explanations in Chinese. Sure one could make the case that learning should be in Chinese at this point but again it comes down to efficiency for me and how much easier subtle differences can be explained in the learner's native tongue.

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Since I'm still feeling in rant mode about NPCR 5 vocab lists for their texts, here is my definition from the book: Cordate houttuynia

That's right I'm now prepared to discuss cordate houttuynia in Chinese, peppering the conversation with references to cassia bark as needed.

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Has anyone read vols 5 and 6 of the PCR? How does the textbook deal with the breakup and subsequent getting together.

vols 5 and 6 of the PCR use "genuine" Chinese text (short essays in 5 and extracts from longer stuff in 6), so no Gubo or Palanka.

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Questions on both of these book series:

I haven't really heard much about the Boya series - can some of those who have used them offer some impressions?

As for NPCR, there are supposed to be 6 books in the series, right? Has book 6 come out yet?

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As for NPCR, there are supposed to be 6 books in the series, right? Has book 6 come out yet?

Check the last post here.

Apparently, not this year. I don't know when it's coming out, presumably next year.

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Thanks everyone, this was really helpful.

The teacher has decided that we will do NPCR 1 and NPCR 2, before moving on to Boya.

So the change is delayed until another few months down the road...

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  • 3 weeks later...
James Garrison

Just a bit more input... I have used Boya, the blue one and the purple one. We used Boya in one of my classes at Donghua University in Shanghai. Sorry to refer to them as if they were Crayons or scarves and not books:), but I guess that the blue is mid-beginner and the purple is intermediate??? Anyway, I found some of the readings very helpful, but not very topical. At the end of every chapter there is a super helpful list of grammatical constructions. For example, they explain how to use 一...就... when talking about actions in sequence.

What I didn't like about Boya was the sloppiness. Apparently they didn't consult any native speakers for the English definitions, and so you get silly translations of some Chinese words/terms. I'm looking at the purple now, and some of the vocab in one chapter is: alkalescence, acidity, secretion, asteriosclerosis, elasticity, life lines, and ravin/law of the jungle. Ravin??? Some don't have example sentences, Then there is one term 蔬果 - that they haven't even bogthered to either put in an example sentence or given the definition for. Those terms aren't useful, especially for intermediate students.

These sorts of easily correctable things reflect badly on the company/people responsible for the Boya series.

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