The learning path of the Chinese Reading and Writing series
The Chinese Reading and Writing series is designed for non-Chinese speakers to start learning how to read and write Chinese. With our unique method based on the statistics of Chinese character occurring and the communication oriented Mandarin Express series, students are able to achieve outstanding outcomes through learning 320 Chinese characters.
There are six books in the series. In Chinese Reading and Writing 1, there is a preparation chapter, followed by five lessons and one review. In Chinese Reading and Writing 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, each book contains five lessons and one review. All lessons follow a simple and powerful format:
How does it work
Here we use Lesson 11 from Chinese Reading and Writing 3 to give a detailed explanation.
At the start of this lesson, students have learned a total of 120 Chinese characters from the previous two books, Chinese Reading and Writing 1 and 2. In Lesson 11, they are going to learn ten new characters and how to use these ten characters in combinations of the characters they have learned previously.
Awareness - present single Chinese characters
The lesson starts with ten individual Chinese characters, 前, 后, 左, 右, 远, 边, 往, 拐, 直, 走, presented in a table.
There are different ways for students to quickly understand what these Chinese characters are, and how to pronounce them. Students can get this information from their Chinese teacher, or by using a Chinese learning App. Presently, there are many Apps providing handy dictionary-like functions.
After students recognise these ten new characters, they can either refer to the stroke order chart at the end of the book or use their learning App to practice writing these characters. The act of writing is very important in learning Chinese characters, creating muscle memories and helping students associate the pronunciation of each character with its form. However, whether or not to follow the prescribed stroke orders is not as critical.
Expansion - provide many words and fixed expressions based on the characters
This step expands students vocabulary, new words and expressions of these ten new characters combined with one another or with the characters they have learned previously.
Students learn the meaning of these new words and expressions, and practice reading and writing these words.
Different from an individual Chinese character which has many different meanings, a word or a combination normally has only one meaning. For example 前, this character can be “in front of”, “before”, “ago” or “forward”, but once it is combined with other characters, this ambiguity disappears, such as 前天, 前边, 往前走, all have fixed meanings.
Practice - work through texts comprising sentences, conversations and narratives, with grammar sections brought in when required to address specific structures
This lesson presents two grammar points, and both are about how to describe locations. In Chinese, the structures of describing locations are different from many other languages. Therefore, it is important to separate this point out and bring students attention to a more targeted practice.
After the grammar section, students begin to practice reading Chinese texts. In Exercise 1, there are 29 single sentences similar to these.
In Exercise 2, there are two short conversations like this one.
In Exercise 3, there is one narrative.
All these exercises are very important for students to understand how the words are used in the context, and how to deconstruct the texts into words, and to comprehend the meaning of the Chinese texts.
Students also practice reading the texts aloud and pausing appropriately between words, so that they can feel the rhythms of the Chinese language.
Consolidation - review the characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs
After going through all the exercises in this lesson, students need to review the newly learned Chinese characters and words. They can follow the examples in the exercises and write their own sentences, conversations and stories. For teachers who are MSL Partners, they can give students additional exercises provided in the Teacher’s Manuals.
When students have finished all five lessons, they will have a final review at the end of each book, going through one more time of all the characters taught in the book, and do more exercises.
The learning path
From awareness to consolidation, this format shows that learning Chinese characters is just the first step in the process, and that the path to Chinese literacy involves much more than the accumulation of characters.
Following the Chinese Reading and Writing series, students can rapidly develop their Chinese reading and writing abilities, and achieve great learning outcome with 320 characters.