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DeFrancis and FSI, a viable combination for a beginner? What more?


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I'm a big fan of the old-school ways of teaching and drilling things into you, and John DeFrancis "Beginning Chinese Reader" and the FSI courses seem perfect for this. Is this a viable combination? I was thinking that DeFrancis focuses more on traditional characters and reading, and FSI to learn more how to talk. Is there anything else I can use to help me further? I'm guessing Anki? How about HelloChinese? Any tips appreciated.

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13 minutes ago, 889 said:

You need a teacher who's willing to drill you on the DeFrancis/FSI materials like they were designed for.


Such teachers are rare as hen's teeth.


I had the impression that they were suitable for self-study?

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As we've mentioned repeatedly here, the most difficult aspect of learning Chinese is learning to speak so that you are understood. There are any number of foreigners, especially those who've primarily learned Chinese overseas, who are fluent in the language -- at least in their own minds -- but who draw a polite but blank stare when they say even the simplest things in China. We've all seen that look.


So from the beginning, Chinese requires that your studies be accompanied by a real live speaker to get and keep your voice in shape. If you don't do this from the beginning, you'll probably develop bad speaking habits that'll be very difficult to break later on.


Further, the DeFrancis/FSI approach is based on rapid drills. You need someone to fire those drills at you. The tapes are not a good substitute. First, they are slow. Second, the tapes only present a relatively few examples of each drill pattern; you need a teacher to manufacture more examples on the spot and throw them at you. (From a teacher's standpoint, this sort of drilling is hard work, which is one reason many resist doing it.)


That is, without a teacher, drilling with tapes is like trying to play catch by yourself.

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