I am an absolute beginner at Chinese and I have found this book absolutely awful.
For anyone seriously looking to learn Chinese, Chinese For Dummies (For Dummies (Lifestyles Paperback))
would not be a great start.
To begin with, this 'for Dummies' book has not been set out 'for Dummies'; upon every page there is an overload of information and new words. It is not clear which words you should learn. Some are in tables, others are in lists and many are just thrown into paragraphs. Instead of speeding up your learning all it does is slow it down.
The next problem is that whenever a new Chinese phrase or word is given the information is cluttered. For example:
gūdōng jiājù 古董家具 (goo-doong jyah-jyew) (antique furniture)
All the text is in the same font and the same size. This makes it very difficult to read through as the more important information is not brought forward and made clear. The extra pronounciation guide is not necessary and makes it difficult to study vocabulary because your eyes are forced to jump from one side of the page to another just to assimilate a single word or phrase. Ideally, the characters and definition should be together on one line and the pinyin* underneath (in smaller font or grey etc.). This would make it much clearer to read.
Another problem I had with the book is that the Chinese characters are too small to read! You cannot clearly see the strokes of the character. This makes it near impossible to gain any understanding from.
My final issue is that there is far too much an emphasis on reading and understanding pinyin - all the example dialogues are written 100% in pinyin! Chinese publications are written in characters and NEVER in pinyin. Pinyin should ONLY be used for reference. Because of this the example dialogues are near useless at helping you 'learn Chinese'
There are far better books for beginners on Chinese (a good one for example is (Chinese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide
). I do not recommend you buy this book.
*Pinyin is the official phonetic system for transcribing the sound of Chinese characters into Latin script.