For people without any Chinese background, learning Chinese is NOT easy. Do not believe any anybody (mainly publishers, textbook writers, and sometimes Chinese language teachers) who claims otherwise.

April Zhang will deliver this paper in full length at The Third International Conference on Chinese Heritage Education: Cornerstone to US Global Collaboration 中文傳承教育: 立足全美、放眼世界, Newark, CA, USA, Aug 12-13, 2017. Come and connect if you are around.


For young adults or adults, non-Chinese speakers often come to learn Chinese for some practical reasons, for example, to travel around China and to learn Chinese culture. Chinese textbooks are the necessary means to fulfill this need.

Unfortunately, Chinese culture is often introduced in a way that alienates students from Chinese culture. For example, chapters on what Chinese people usually do during Chinese New Year, textual analysis often shows a clear boundary between Chinese culture and the students' culture.

Student's post, by Keong:

It's often said that learning Chinese (Mandarin) is very difficult. When considering the truth or otherwise of that virtual cliché, the reality is that learning ANY foreign language presents all sorts of challenges – particularly when at that stage of learning (and it is a long stage) where you are relying on memory, when language ability is not yet at that level which can reasonably be described as 'fluent' and there is no practical opportunity for immersion.

Ok, the title sounds pretentious. But everyone has a reason to write. My reason to write 20 Mandarin textbooks, to put up with the pain and the long hours, are stated below.

Many people start learning Mandarin after they have started their career. For them, time is precious. But often, half of the time they spend on learning Mandarin is wasted. They often spend too much time trying to remember the tones, and lose the opportunity to do focused practice.

Learning Mandarin effectively is about understanding input and output. Let's take a closer look in the context of speaking and listening.

The basic input is sounds, words, patterns, meanings, grammars and etc. The basic output is student's ability to listen and to speak, to carry on a conversation or to express some ideas.