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Intermediate Chinese Grammar online edX course


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Well here as promised a little review on the two books, well really three because of the workbook. Please remember this is the first book review i have done since school which was a long time ago. :)


This is my mini review of Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar (MMCG) by Claudia Ross, Jing-jeng Sheng Ma and Baozhang He and Schaum’s Outline of Chinese Grammar (SOCG) by Claudia Ross.


The copies I have of SOCG are copyright 2004 and MMCG is 2006. The following review is of these two versions.


The main reason for this review is to compare the two books. MMCG has a separate workbook while the SOCG has the questions imbedded in the lessons, (I prefer this) both have answer keys.


Both books start with an overview to Chinese characters, pinyin, and pronunciation and conventions used in the books. In the MMCG this takes up 13 pages as opposed to 2 and half pages in SOCG.


I chose the Chapter on numbers as it was the clearest to compare, but I have also done a quick comparison of other chapters and the findings for the chapter on numbers appears to hold true for the others.


The information contained in the two books is basically the same, the difference is in presentation, order and amount of examples, surprisingly the SOCG generally had more examples throughout.


SOCG contains the same information condensed with no graphics - which are chapter headings, section numbers and margins with arrows pointing to other sections numbers that may be connected.


The numbers were taught in the same general order and with about the same emphasis on importance.


SOCG did not contain the sections on Lucky Numbers, Numbers used as abbreviations for homophones and a section titled Numbers used in phrases and expressions. To my mind these are “extra” things not entirely needed for grammar, more for usage.


SOCG seems to me to be clearer and more concise with the information. 


The MMCG is divided in to two parts: Part A titled Structures and Part B Situations and Functions. Part A is very similar to SOCG, there is information in Part 2 which is in SOCG. Part 2 also has several chapters with titles staring with” Expressing…………..”   There are chapters on things like “Asking about the weather” , “Asking about age”, “Talking about Illness and other medical conditions”. This is a small example of the sort of things in Part 2. This is more to do with general usage and not solely grammar. I am glad this is not in SOCG as it is the sort of thing I expect to find in a general textbook and seems a bit confusing to me as to their place in a grammar book.  There is an index of 9 pages of the total number of 388 pages.


The MMCG workbook is a similar layout to the text book. With margins containing arrows pointing to numbers that are the texts that the  questions relate to and a 1,2, or 3 star rating as to difficulty, all of which serve to muddy the waters as far as I am concerned. The workbook contains the answer key which runs to 91 pages of the book’s 265 pages, and the index is 4 pages.


The quizzes in SOCG are part of the lesson. For each topic there are a set of questions, multiple choice etc. suitable for the subject. I like the way they are given immediately after the information is given so you can put in to practice what you have just learnt or realise you have misunderstood because you got them all wrong. :-?


I like the way both have Characters simplified and traditional, pinyin and the English translation in the examples and where appropriate in the quizzes, this saves time not having to look up words just to be able to understand the example.


I found MMCG used more “technical” grammar terms, some of these terms are also used in SOCG but they are explained better.


Overall I would say both books have their merits but for me personally I prefer SOCG. I think this is because it doesn’t have the “extra” things that are in MMCG. 


I get the feeling that they thought ah this (SOCG) is a good book , a bit on the thin side, lets pad it out and separate  out the work book so there will be 2 bigger books to sell. Also the clue really is in the title SOCG does call itself an Outline and this shows in its compactness but not in lack of information.


I don’t think there a substantial difference in content more a difference in presentation.


Remember this review is my opinion. I have tried to ensure that the facts are correct, but apologies for any possible errors.


For those of you not familiar with these 3 books here are the ISBN no. for each


Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar   ISBN 0-415-70010-8

Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar   Workbook   ISBN 0-415-70011-6

Schaum ‘s Outline of Chinese Grammar    ISBN   0-07-137764-6



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  • 1 month later...

OK, time to update on this on-line course.  Despite having missed out on Week 3's homework, I got 91% overall and aced an A grade, YAY!! :P  :lol:  :clap  :wink:


I *really* hope she does an advanced one soon.  In fact, I plan to e-mail her asking for one.  I haven't quite finished watching all the vids (I was able to do several of the homework thingies without as very little was new to me), but I learned a lot about why things are as they are (i.e. why there are such things as 把 sentences and when one must use them and why - fascinating!).  I want to review a few things soon to get it totally straight in my head too.


Anyone else still soldiering on with this course and/or finished it?

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Well done Elizabeth :clap


I dropped out for various reasons as I said in some of my earlier posts, but making excellent progress with Schaum's outline book as per my review in post #84.


Have been doing the Chinese relics course, very interesting , finishes 24th Dec.


Going to start one about Chinese architecture in the new year.

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Congratulations! I'm soldiering on towards the end. Last homework and final exam still to do.


Week 2 was a bit iffy, but otherwise I'm on course for something reasonable grade-wise, with everything in the 80-100% range. I'll post the final, terrible figure when I've completed it, which won't quite be as glittering as 91%, I suspect, but which shouldn't be too shabby.


It's been really worth doing the course. And strangely enjoyable, too, despite some of the odd example sentences (what was going on with "Take off your clothes. Forget about the pain."???)


An advanced course would be great. Meanwhile, I'm planning to consolidate with the textbook.

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Have just taken the final exam and I got 95% overall, yay!

I didn't expect much at first, but it turns out that I've learned A LOT from this course. A really big thanks to Prof. Xu Jingning for creating this course and making it available online for free.



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After watching the intro video and the first lesson I like what I see. I like that it is all in Chinese with no English, I hope that it's all like that.


I think it is a good listening resource. Teaching Chinese in Chinese. She speaks at a good pace and I can understand most of what she is saying. I'm happy that the subtitles are to the side and small so that there is no danger of me glancing at them to cheat (myself).


I'm coming at the course with no formal grammar learning but I'll probably know most of the grammar points already. Saying that I'm sure I'll learn a lot from it.


Not sure I'll bother doing it formally with all the exercises, unless they're quick for me to do.


Thanks for the resource :)

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It's too late to do it formally now as there were deadlines for the homework and some were back in September. :D


Ah! That's why I missed that sentence about taking off clothes - I did the 把字句 section after only watching the first vid.  I missed homework #3 thanks to misunderstanding the deadline time, else I would have good a couple of percent more.... Still, 91%'s not too bad. :)


Yes, I too got a nice reply from her when I e-mailed thanking her and asking for an advanced class.  Having been a teacher, I know how much students contacting her to say 'thanks' and 'more, please' will mean to her - especially for a faceless internet course.  So, if anyone else gets chance to drop her a line, please do!

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  • 3 months later...

Just noticed, another offering of this course started on mar 16. There's still time to start, the first quiz is not due until Mar 29, though 2nd week is starting. I'm going to give it a try this time around (unfortunately got too busy last time with other things).

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Question for anyone who bought the recommended text, is it worth it? Or are the videos sufficient?


I already have Claudia Ross (Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar) and Yip-Po Ching's (Base/Intermediate/Comprehensive Chinese Grammar) books, so not keen to get another grammar book unless it's sufficiently different/useful (plus the fact that the book won't arrive until halfway to two-thirds through the course).

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I didn't need any extra book, I found her explanations excellent and, like you, have stacks of reference books myself.  I would say you won't need it.  Enjoy the course, it's *really* good!  I'll be referring back to her vids soon... :)

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I just had a quick look at the intro video and I'm watching the first lesson now. I'm actually surprised that I can listen to it quite easily. I guess the teacher really knows how to really restrict her vocabulary and speed. Anyway, this got me thinking. For people who study Chinese in a class: do all the Chinese teachers speak like this in a similar level classes? This kind of immersion must be great for learning.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just finished watching the 4th week. I love this! But I can't handle waiting for the release of the next lesson. I wish it was all uploaded already :(


Nothing in it is very difficult. I find it easy to answer all the questions. But before I could only answer all the questions because of my 語感. It's great to know the formal rules behind everything. In the future I imagine it will be much easier to know what I have to change or add when my spider sense tells me something is wrong. And as I said before, I love the speed and simplicity of her speech. I really love watching her. So sad there's nothing else like this around (from what I can tell). It really makes me wish I could go study Chinese formally too :*(

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