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A Kaleidoscope of China: An Advanced Reader of Modern Chinese (The Princeton Language Program: Modern Chinese) Paperback – 6 Jun 2010
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From the Back Cover
"Chou and his colleagues have once again produced a superb Chinese language textbook. This crack team of seasoned teachers is probably the best in the world when it comes to teaching Chinese as a second language. A Kaleidoscope of China presents a veritable feast of fascinating essays. Students will not only find it stimulating but, more importantly, will learn well from it."--James M. Hargett, University at Albany, State University of New York
"The well-chosen texts in A Kaleidoscope of China cover a wide spectrum of social and cultural issues in contemporary China. The targeted exercises not only help consolidate grammar points, sentence structures, and vocabulary, but also train students other language skills appropriate at this level. This book will be very well received by students and teachers alike."--Baozhang He, College of the Holy Cross
About the Author
Chih-p'ing Chou is professor of East Asian studies at Princeton University and director of the university's Chinese language and Princeton in Beijing programs. Joanne Chiang is senior lecturer in Chinese at Princeton. Jingyu Wang and Hua-Hui Wei are former lecturers in Chinese at Princeton.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, if you are learning traditional characters you will be a little frustrated. The grammar explanations and the practice sections are all simplified. My professors chose this book so I didn't have a say in the matter. My tests and other class material are written in simplified, BUT I am expected to do all my homework, essays, ppt presentations, and tests in traditional bc I have been doing it now for five semesters. I need more contact with traditional and less with simplified if you get my drift.
Even though the grammar and practice sections are only in simplified, the actual articles and vocab lists are in traditional. Despite this, the font makes it hard to determine what the characters looks like. The font is really ugly!! Of course, I use Pleco and Skritter to figure them out, but it is adds to my work load.
On top of the lack of traditional translations, there are a few traditional character mistakes. For example, pg. 113 baibantengai and yilai have not been written in traditional. I can correct it bc I know what they should look like. Also, pg. 35 jue should have three water droplets not two so it needs to be fixed for traditional. My mainland teachers marked me off for it because they don't know any better. So frustrating!!! This is picky, but guo as in jingguo (pg 115) is written in what i call the lazy man's style so please fix that, too. There are more mistakes, but really it's not my job to point them out to native speakers.
I feel that for $50 the authors could have done a much better job giving equal priority to traditional learners. It's Princeton for goodness sake!! Please hire someone from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau to check your traditional characters!! It seems you have authors who should know traditional, but none of them caught these errors. Sloppy work!
P.S. If you write simplified characters, then this book will be fine for you.
Since the texts are drawn mostly from mainland Chinese newspapers, there is nothing so incendiary in content that it would prevent this book from being used in study abroad programs in mainland China or that it might raise eyebrows in Chinese departments in the US. In addition to learning what issues were important to Chinese authorities during that period covered by the texts, students of Chinese using this book will also learn the sort of discourse that is used in the People's Daily. A revelation to me was how both spiritual and material civilization (wenming) could be described as necessary to address China's public toilet problems.
My initial impression using the book was that the level is pitched a bit too high for the target learner group, third- or fourth-year Chinese students. Students are presumably making a big jump into formal Chinese around this level. The way this book deals with that is by accompanying each text with a huge list of vocabulary, often numbering around 75 items. Grammar explanations and supplementary exercises are minimal, usually limited to about two pages in total. This can all be seen in Amazon's book preview. It would be nice to have a little more instruction on differences between informal and formal Chinese. Authors of Chinese textbooks should note that while students may develop a sense for formality in Chinese, the level of formality for each word or structure is not always obvious, especially for students who have had little exposure to Chinese outside the classroom.
For the minority of students who insist on studying the complex set of characters, among whom I count myself, each chapter does have a traditional character version of the text. As another reviewer mentioned, there are occasional typos both in the vocabulary lists and in the texts, so it is important to verify that traditional characters are written correctly.
I would generally not recommend this book for self study unless the student is already well into the advanced level (e.g. already finished with a Chinese major or the equivalent) and is looking for reading practice. For other students, a very good teacher could make this book interesting.
For those of you who are studying on your own or who really want to push the boundaries of you Chinese with some very difficult articles (good for those who want to take HSK level 6 or TOCFL Band C), I highly suggest "Thought and Society" and 從精讀到泛讀 "The Independent Reader." I believe they have a simplified version should you need it, but as they are Taiwanese books, they are chiefly written in traditional characters. They are somewhat less politicized as the other two mentioned above, though, to their detriment, are rather old. Some of the topics seem outdated and the vocabulary is very 書面語 (advanced, written language). These are certainly not for conversation, but for reading comprehension.