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Free Textbooks for Taiwan-focused Mandarin Students


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The Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission of the Republic of China had at least two textbooks available on their server that were free to download, but they've since disappeared. Fortunately, I managed to save the PDFs before that time. The content is pretty good, but the pages are rather crowded. The titles are Speak Mandarin in Five Hundred Words and Speak Mandarin in One Thousand Words. Since these books are intended for Taiwan-focused (overseas) Mandarin students, I decided to cut out all the fat and abridge the books. One thing curiously missing from both books is any sort of primer or introduction to pronunciation and spelling, so I took it upon myself to create one.


So far, I have completed transcribing and altering the first five chapters of the first book, but I want feedback on layout and structure before I continue. Please keep in mind that I am only using the content that already exists in the books; I am just rearranging it and deleting a lot of distracting fluff.


Here are the first five chapters: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15757362/SM500W_abridged%28SAMPLE%29.pdf


Here is the pronunciation sound-board: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15757362/ZHUYIN_SOUND_BOARD.swf


Here is the spelling guide: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15757362/ZHUYIN.pdf

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I have completed transcribing and altering the first chapter of the first book

Are you quite sure that you're allowed to do that? What about copyright? What's your purpose (I mean, besides starting your nth "I despise pinyin" thread).

The Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission of the Republic of China had at least two textbooks available on their server that were free to download, but they've since disappeared.


I didn't look in detail but there's still downloadable image versions for PC.

It looks like only the pdf versions were removed.

Maybe to cut down plagiarism?

I am just rearranging it and deleting a lot of distracting fluff.

Like what? (besides pinyin).

Edit: actually the original file is available here


only it's quite big and downloads slowly.

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deleting a lot of distracting fluff.


What makes you think its distracting fluff? What exactly are you removing? What makes you qualified to decide?


Like edelweis says what about copyright?


Can you post the original of the first chapter for comparison?


Its a bit scary when someone start "rearranging" textbooks, I have found that the original arrangement was usually that way for a good reason.


You may be on to something but I will need some more convincing.





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@Shelley: actually the original pdf is still available from this page



and the smaller English version without sound is here:


(36 MB)



Edit: p26 Taiwanese version of na3


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Personally I prefer the original, quite like the pictures and the colours and oh yes the pinyin.


if this is something for you own use, then good luck but I wouldn't suggest it to new learners, its a bit plain and dreary, not very encouraging.

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Since the OCAC is knowingly offering these materials online for free, and since I don't plan to profit from them in any way, and since I cited the original publisher and author in the document, I'll take my chances with copyright complications. Please feel free to report me to the OCAC if my rather blithe approach troubles you; I won't be offended, and I would only be too happy to deal with them.

I was careful not to use the words 'pinyin' and 'zhuyin' in my original post because I didn't want to start any mischief. I thought it sufficient to specify that the materials were intended for those focused on Taiwan ROC, wherein Zhuyin is the national alphabet and has been for the entirety of the government's existence (and thus the default script). I would be more than happy to introduce Pinyin in a later section, as it is useful for typing; I'm pretty sure that I learned my nation's alphabet well before I learned how to type, after all.

The fluff to which I was referring includes Pinyin, the English translations, some of the graphics, section headers, repetitive vocabulary, and duplicated reading passages.

I do not despise Pinyin any more than I despise simplified characters or the People's Republic of China. I simply choose not to partake in them, nor promote them; I do not actively crusade against them with malice. For users who prefer Pinyin, there are already mountains of resources available. The materials presented here are intended for those who prefer the Taiwan ROC style. What's wrong with having access to more options?

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Creating a complementary resource like an Anki deck is one thing.
Providing an alternate archive of (unmodified) pdfs freely available somewhere else on the internet is one thing.

Copying and pasting a full course, "removing the fluff", and distributing in pdf format is another.
You're misrepresenting the OCAC's work.
You' re tryind to mislead people about the availability of the original version.

Free to download does not mean you're free to modify and redistribute a modified version, and refuse to distribute the original version despite "having fortunately saved it".



Edit: I think, after some cool down time, that the above is too strongly worded. Apologies for that. What you're proposing to do is hardly a terrible crime.

If you had provided the link and/or uploaded the original pdf somewhere for the forumites to download, it would have been fine with me. Only it felt like you were saying "I have the original pdf, but I will only give you my own (pinyin-less) version" and that annoyed me.

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  • 3 years later...
  • 4 months later...

Thank you for posting about this. It would be great to find the original version or resources, but the website is a bit hard to navigate for a beginner (all Mandarin).


Do you have any updated links or guidance on the versions?


In my particular case, I'm kinda A1 level but trying to progress further. Having lived in Taiwan briefly and knowing how to get by conversationally, I felt this would be the best way to approach it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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