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ChristopherB

Why don't more people use John DeFrancis' Chinese Reader series?

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Meng Lelan

I was one of the teachers chosen to pilot Encounters last year but I did not find the series appropriate. It is not at all like DeFrancis. The cultural segments the DVD set are very very good though, how they interview all kinds of people about their experiences about one aspect of Chinese culture. However I ended up switching to the Great Wall Chinese series published by the Confucius Institute to teach my classes.

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Mcanton

I see, it seemed very interesting, in so much money invested in creating a tv series which the students follow as they learn Chinese. Guess not enough was spent in other aspects of the course?

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Meng Lelan

A lot of time and money was spent on developing the DVDs. I would use the DVDs to supplement instruction but in the future I am not going to use Encounters as a core text for any class. I was amazed at how little attention was given to instruction in the basics - pinyin, tones, radicals, strokes, sentence patterns, etc. The beginners need to start with a foundation and I just didn't see that in Encounters which is supposed to be a beginning text.

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Mcanton

That is a shame. They provided the first chapter as a preview for those who register. It is just how you said. Lacking in detail. I think I will use it as a supplement to my learning.

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feng

I have never seen these before in any shop.

If there were digital versions I could read on my iPhone I would probably check them out.

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heifeng
So, I pose the question to all Chinese language keeners on this respectable forum: Have you ever considered using the DeFrancis readers? If not, why not?

Stardate: 7.1997

The place: Barnes & Noble...in midwest city, USA, planet Earth.

The only seemingly useful Chinese book available was this one: DeFrancis's Beginning Chinese Reader (Beginning Chinese Reader, Part I)

Thus, this (and another book on individual characters which showed all of the stroke orders) were my very first texts during my self study/language exchange time period back when I was just a wee thing and had a burning desire to read Chinese! After that I didn't choose the books when I began formally studying, but Defrancis's reader has its place in my Chinese learning history (along with my fair share of Gong Li/Zhang Yimou movies which were the only mandarin ones I could find in Suncoast video store at the local mall...ahh how times have changed. All hail the internet)

Sooooo, the book apparently kept me interested long enough to continue my studies in Chinese language but it has been a long time, so I cannot list specific pros & cons of the text.

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Meng Lelan

DeFrancis was truly outstanding in his time when so few resources were available, and like heifeng, I was just a wee thing at the time.

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laurenth
So, I pose the question to all Chinese language keeners on this respectable forum: Have you ever considered using the DeFrancis readers? If not, why not?

Hello, I happen to have vol. 1 & 2 on my shelf. They were given to me by someone who has stopped learning Chinese. Though I haven't used them yet, I keep them handy because:

1. One day I intend to learn traditional characters;

2. I love the bare layout, the long drills and, yes, the beautiful calligraphy (or font?) used in this book. I believe in the value of extensive reading and repeated drills to learn Chinese, and this is the kind of book I'd have liked to use in simplified Chinese. I also like the method that consists in boldly introducing characters and vocab upfront. Many methods avoid this. The French manual I used when I started learning (Bellassen's Méthode d'initiation à la langue et à l'écriture chinoises) has the same point of view.

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feng

It's not in any shop I have ever been to, or not on any online store that ships to my country. If it was available as an ebook, or maybe on a torrent site I would get it.

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Meng Lelan

Bare layout, that's about right. Today's textbooks have a lot of stuffing and fluffing.

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feng

Without all the stuffing and fluffing the books would not weigh half a tonne, wreck your back, and make you want to pay insane amounts of money for it.

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yialanliu

For me, it's quite simple. I used whatever my teacher told me to buy when I first started learning Chinese. And then I just use the supplement that my teacher gives. No point in branching out when I have a teacher.

I think many Chinese language students are like that. Very few are so engrossed that they branch out (the mix here is different than a standard mix of chinese students). Anyways, since I am happy with the CPR series, never thought about looking at other material.

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laurenth
it's quite simple. I used whatever my teacher told me to buy when I first started learning Chinese. And then I just use the supplement that my teacher gives. No point in branching out when I have a teacher.

On the contrary, I think there's a point. I like to have several books and many other ressources available: the same things are explained differently, with different approaches to the same problem, you have different exercises to drill the same points, you see the same vocab/characters in different contexts, etc. This, I believe, reinforces the learning process. Plus, it helps fighting routine and boredom.

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yialanliu
On the contrary, I think there's a point. I like to have several books and many other ressources available: the same things are explained differently, with different approaches to the same problem, you have different exercises to drill the same points, you see the same vocab/characters in different contexts, etc. This, I believe, reinforces the learning process. Plus, it helps fighting routine and boredom.

No doubt it is true. However, most people are probably too time constrained or just don't put the effort in.

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murrayjames

Is this series available in China, or in any digital format? I'd like to check it out

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Meng Lelan

You might want to try Interlibrary Loan if you cannot find it in China or in digital format.

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feng
You might want to try Interlibrary Loan if you cannot find it in China or in digital format.

If you are in china, there are probably better things to read at the local bookshop. :P

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character
So, I pose the question to all Chinese language keeners on this respectable forum: Have you ever considered using the DeFrancis readers?

In June, I was looking at the material I have for learning to read Chinese and chose to try DeFrancis while my Chinese class (2 hours a week) is on summer break. FWIW, I probably passively know 1000+ characters at some level, so my use of the readers is more about reading speed, new words, and improving my grasp of grammar than starting to read from scratch.

I like the material in the Beginning Chinese Reader so far. There's a good mix of shorter and longer reading material in each chapter. The first set of sentences in each chapter is translated into English at the end of the chapter, so once I've read a chapter, I try translating the English back into Chinese and comparing my results. The book is helping with my understanding of Chinese grammar and reading speed; I haven't encountered much new vocabulary so far. The calculated repetition in the material is great and helps set these books apart from (also great) works such as The Lady in the Painting and the Chinese Breeze series. The clean layout beats material with pinyin under each line or bopomofo next to each character.

If you're not afraid of traditional characters and are at the right level for the material, I think these readers are very much worth considering.

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