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The 1972 and 1965 汉语读本 series


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Hey everyone! Recently I've managed to dig up a bunch of copies of what looks like the precursor to the PCR series. The series was printed over a couple of decades and always seems to be called 汉语读本 or something similiar. I love communist kitsche so there's nothing better than learnign Chinese through stories of heroic workers and demonic Japanese.


Is anyone else familiar with these series of readers and know how many different versions and printings there are? I'm interested in getting a copy of all of them.


So far I've managed to find 汉语读本上册 and 下册 from 1972, and 上册 from 1965. Are there any others? And is this series actually the precursor to PCR?

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I also have a couple of text books from 1972 that also looks like a precursor to Practical Chinese Reader and Elementary Chinese Reader.


A few scans of the 2 volumes I have, also one lovely picture of Nanking Yangtze river bridge :)






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Just found I have part 1 and 2 of both of these, thought I only had parts 2 but found parts 1 on a different shelf. :)


Part one of Elementary Chinese is printed in 1971.


If anyone is interested I can do scans of some of these as well.

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So the answer is no.


Wonder where they fit in the scheme of things, they are also printed in 1971 and 1972 ans look just like precursors to PCR.


Oh well probably will never know as it seems no one is paying attention to them.

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Yeah they are the same. I also have one of the 1972 基础汉语 and one of the 1972 汉语读本. Unfortunately neither is a complete set. It seems in 1965 and 1972 the two separate 基础汉语 and 汉语读本 that complement each other. But after 1974 it looks like the separate 基础汉语 just gets merged into the 汉语读本?


Where did you get all of these books from anyway? I found mine in a big box of old Chinese textbooks to be thrown out at my uni and 'stole' them. They seem a bit rare.

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Here is the 1974-1975 series I have. Like all these old books, the type setting is awful, the paper is so thin you can see through the pages, and there are inconsistences and weirdness everywhere - like an occassional note in French while the bulk of the text is English.



stapler's selections are epic. Oh the good old days of Chinese textbooks, they were awful! 

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  • 2 years later...

Hi, Stapler,

this is Longfei, I'm Chinese but now live in Germany doing my PhD study here about"Foreign education in China in 1970s".

I am very interested in your posts about the Chinese textbooks <汉语课本> publiched by 北京语言学院 in 1972, which are not accessble in mainland China. So could I ask for a favor to see them or buy them, or as exchange I send you other Chinese textbooks in return? 

Looking forward to your reply 

Best Regards


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@katja xing  I don't know if you would be interested in the ones I have.


They are Elementary Chinese Part 1 and 2. Part 1 is printed in 1975 and Part 2 is printed in 1972, not sure why it is this way, maybe  part 1 is a reprint but it doesn't say that. I have a Part 1 that is printed in 1971 and there are no differences in content,  but I want to keep that one.


The reason i would be willing to part with these is that I do have 2 copies of each.


I also have 2 copies of Chinese reader Part 1 and 2. These are printed in 1972.


I have some other old text books I would be willing to part with as I don't really have any need for them. if you are interested in any of these I will post some pictures. These are from the 70s too, but some are reprints of older books, for example Teach yourself Chinese by H.R. Williamson from the teach yourself series printed in 1947 and reprinted in 1974.


I would be happy to swap or just cover the postage.

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@ katja xing - I'm pretty sure you can buy them online. I definitely remember seeing them somewhere (taobao? ebay? amazon?) I can't remember where exactly. If you only want them research purposes that's probably the easiest/cheapest option. I remember they were only a few bucks.


Also as a part of this thread itself, I also found some other even older made-in-China Chinese textbooks from 1958. It's pretty cool. Half the textbook is in 繁體字 and another half in 簡體字. I'm not sure why it doesn't stick to one set. I guess because it was made during the 'transition' period. They're also hard bound. Never seen that in a language textbook before.


Despite being old as hell, these books actually seem vastly superior (including being hardbacks ^_^) to any other Chinese textbook produced since. This might just be a preference for my own learning style, but I feel that as language learning as changed from a highly specialised thing to mass market consumption the quality of language books has been dramatically stripped down, almost into phrasebooks (which are very useful for practice, but not good enough on their own).


This series of books spends 60 pages and 5 chapters just talking about how to pronounce Chinese, with detailed explanations of tones and mouth diagrams to show how to articulate each sound. There's an extensive commentary of how Chinese characters and words are formed. Just lots of information I felt like I should have been told at the beginning and only worked out much later on. You don't even get to the 你好 chapter until chapter 9! Everything comes with lots of explanation, in both English and Chinese (though I guess the Chinese is useless for beginners, I like that it's annotated nonetheless). There's still a little bit about "revolution" - but it doesn't go spazzo about it like the books from the Cultural Revolution do. They also call the language "Peking dialect", which I also like.















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Stapler, that's an awesome book.


Seems like a reflection of the shift from language as an academic topic to language as a form of communication. Most research shows that we learn quicker and better if we just get right to using the language. Some schools of thought just get rid of teaching grammar altogether. I think that's a little extreme but a reflection of this shift as we, as language teachers, try to find the right balance of explicit explanations and implicit learning.


That knowledge would be crucial if  you are the teacher (tongue positions and all) but then only selective teach it. Say, you have a student who puts their tongue on the bottom teeth instead of the top teeth when doing the "xi" sound. Knowing that is really helpful for the teacher to correct the students, but it doesn't always help the student actually produce the sound. I liken it to the difference of reading about how to swing a bat and actually getting out and practicing.

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