It's not their fault that they want to understand signs on the street, but their teacher only teaches them pinyin. They want to tell the difference between "I am" and "fifty", but all they can tell is that there is one different letter and two different tone markers. People are hard working. But the result is not proportional to the effort they have made.
It's apparent to me that these mismatches are acute problems. And I decided to do something about this in 2003. From then on, after many years of teaching, writing and consolidating, I can offer the 2nd edition of Mandarin Express series and Chinese Reading and Writing series to those who want to learn Mandarin effectively.
Learning Mandarin is difficult, regardless whether the students are learning traditional or simplified characters, using pinyin or zhuyin, with the help of mobile apps or without.
Many teachers believe that there is a short cut, that they only teach students pinyin. Inadvertently, they have robbed the students of a chance of a real learning experience. Many students, who learned hundreds of characters through flash cards, often found out that those characters hardly yield any meaning when put together.
Functionality and usability are always the center in each chapter. Language is presented in an incremental and systematic way to help students avoid potential pitfalls. The co-enforcement between the two series can keep the students from getting overwhelmed.
I had never imagined one day I would become a full time Mandarin tutor when I was tutoring my classmates in high school. Neither did I think I would one day write 20 Mandarin textbooks when I was studying mechanical engineering at university. Even more than that, I have revised these textbooks into their 2nd editions.
These textbooks have helped my students. Or rather, my students have helped me write them. Now I hope these books can help others. And with the help from all those new students the textbooks have reached, I can further improve them into a 3rd edition.