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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Mandarin Chinese: Program 2 (Complete Idiot's Guides)

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Item Number 370811  
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Item Specifications...

Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 2" Width: 7.75" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  CD
Release Date   Jul 15, 2005
Publisher   Oasis Audio
ISBN  1598590650  
EAN  9781598590654  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This second level has also been designed by a team of memory and liguistics experts to ensure learning.

Buy The Complete Idiot's Guide to Mandarin Chinese: Program 2 (Complete Idiot's Guides) by Linguistics Team from our Audio Book store - isbn: 9781598590654 & 1598590650

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Extremely Good Audio Based Introduction To Spoken Mandarin  Feb 16, 2008
Firstly I refer to this as the Oasis Mandarin Chinese course, rather than using the unfortunate name prominently displayed on the box, one that actually made me hesitate even purchasing it. The progression this course gradually undertakes, makes it one of the best introductions on the topic I have encountered so far.

This course provides audio CD's, along with an electronic-book (PDF format) that has all 32 audio tracks written out, and so the entire series of dialogues can be printed out. The dialogue text is two-column, right side English, left side pinyin (Romanized) Mandarin Chinese. It depends upon your approach to learning, I find myself benefitting most from audio-based instruction that has matching, verbatim text, that I can refer to either simultaneously, or separately. The written part is just as important for me as the audio portion.

The dialogues average around 15 minutes each, covering a wide range of topics with appropriate new vocabulary introduced within each one. The speakers' voices are clear, with the recordings done in an interesting stereo format, English panned to one side, Chinese to the other. The dialogues follow a main character through visiting China with encounters at the airport, in business, outdoors, with families, and in various other situations.

What makes this course outstanding, is that the actual dialogue is only a small portion of each individual recording. After going through the entire dialogue one time (alternating Mandarin then English per sentence), the vocabulary in the section is then re-introduced, one word at a time. Then, sentence fragments are built up, culminating into the full sentence within the dialogue. While never discussing Mandarin grammar explicitly per se, this approach leads to a surprisingly deep familiarity with sentence composition.

Variations of words are also sprinkled in, along with opposites, and a seeming penchant for occasionally introducing words near each other with identical spelling varying only in their tonal markings, and sometimes not even that (synonyms, homonyms, antonyms). As an example of one of these, 'big' might be used in the dialogue while modifying a noun. In the vocabulary sub-section, 'small' is shown as well, followed by perhaps a brief coverage of how to say very big, not big, and so on. This is illustrative, it is not a fixed pattern for every dialogue, but it is a consistently used approach to introduce new words and grammatical concepts.

Along with the hours of audio for dialogues, there are 4 CD's that cover a large amount of vocabulary, with a corresponding vocabulary section in the final third of the electronic-book. A wide variety of words and topics are presented, medical terms, animals, colors, foods, general expressions, and so on. The vocabulary section is around 50 pages of the almost 400 page electronic book, and has 27 major categories listed in the index.

The one possible shortcoming for someone totally new to Mandarin Chinese is a lack of pronunciation guide in the beginning. There are many other courses for this. I might recommend Berlitz Mandarin Chinese in 30 Days (Berlitz in 30 Days), which has an outstanding introductory speaking guide, that not only reviews pronunciation thoroughly, but also provides audio tests for recognizing the four tones when listening to spoken Mandarin, a unique feature in my experience.

The look of the print of the electronic book is strictly business-like, with a monospaced typeface and page after page of single-spaced text. For those seeking serious introductory instruction in speaking and understanding Mandarin, this is actually welcome over a plethora of superfluous images or formatting niceties.

If there is anything to comment on, it is that there is an appendix section with all the dialogues written out once again, only now with their matching Chinese ideograms above each sentence (see the image section for an example). This is a fine feature, except that the ideograms provided are very small, appearing almost to be written hastily. Also, on those pages there are no four-tone accent marks over the pinyin text, which are essential for pronunciation and understanding meanings of certain words. This is a very small point to be made however, since this course is focused purely upon learning conversational Chinese, not written. The 32 dialogues themselves all have correctly printed Pinyin with accent marks. The Berlitz course mentioned above also has a very good introduction to writing basic characters, complementing this course again.

This course excels in everything it was designed for. As I am one who benefits most from an audio-plus-text language instruction format, I give this superlative marks in all categories. It could equally well be listened to only, disregarding the ebook, or even vice-versa, reading through the text and not playing audio. In the case of the English speaker learning Mandarin, seeing the four tones in text is quite essential at the start. This is an extremely well thought through course.

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