Communication based Chinese textbooks
After many years of effort, many Chinese language learners often do well with reading Chinese novels or newspapers. Their Achilles heel is verbal communications in Chinese. They can not engage in meaningful exchanges with others. They either lack of confidence to speak Chinese or feel their listening skills are inadequate, or both. Also, most Chinese language learners do not have the chance to write something in Chinese, i.e. to write for pleasure. Their learning experience is incomplete at the least, and they miss a lot of fun.
These inadequacies are usually caused by Chinese learning materials which are heavy on reading and writing, and perhaps combined with test-oriented teaching methods.
In order to help students truly experience the fun of learning Chinese and become proficient in both verbal and written communications, we proudly present the Mandarin Express series.
Mandarin Express series revolves around communications, and the word "express" in the title represents this purpose and the underlined methodologies.
To speak fluent Mandarin Chinese
The first meaning of “express” is “to express”: to say something in Mandarin Chinese.
Chinese is a language. Learning Chinese is to learn a new way of expressions, expressions of who we are and what we want to say to the world.
Many Chinese textbooks start the first lesson with greetings, teaching students how to say “hello” in Chinese. But in Mandarin Express Intro Level A, students start the first lesson to express their identities, telling the world where they are from.
“To express” also has a built-in quality of clarity. Not only do students express themselves, but do it clearly.
Moreover, the range of expressions is widely represented in the series. The lower levels help students express topics around daily life and work, such as travelling and job benefits. The higher levels help students express their opinions regarding world issues, histories, and philosophies, such as the opium war and Confucianism.
To communicate well in Mandarin Chinese
The second meaning of “express” is an extension of the first meaning, “to communicate”.
One major reason for students to express something is that others can understand them. “To express” implies the existence of an interlocutor, who is listening to these expressions and possibly responds. Thus, there is an exchange between the person who is expressing and the person who is listening. The communication flows are quite possible coming from both ends. The person who is expressing will also listen, and the person who is listening will also express.
Therefore, Mandarin Express series focuses on exchanging ideas. We all have tons of ideas. We can talk about these ideas and we can also write about these ideas.
When we are talking about our ideas, we expect people to listen to us. At the same time, we must also listen. Therefore, when students learn to express themselves in Chinese, they must also learn to listen. Listening is not an easy task. Chinese listening skill is probably the most difficult skill to develop. This is the reason that all Work Books are full of different and challenging listening exercises, which are level appropriate for students to train their ears. Lower level students go through extensive and controlled listening exercises, which contain close to zero new words. And high level students train their exceptional listening skills using more and more authentic materials.
When we are writing about our ideas, we expect people to read and understand our points. Writing with clarity is a top priority. This is the reason that there are writing opportunities imbedded in the entire series. Sometimes students are asked to write about a given topic, and other times students are invited to come up with a topic they are most interested in.
To hop on an express train
The third meaning of "express" is to send something through a special route, such as an express train. For Mandarin Express series, this special route is to take students from being beginner students to mastering Chinese language proficiency and cultural literacy.
This journey is carefully divided into many stops. Each stop takes students a little bit further and calls forth the next stop. Students’ Chinese language ability and communication skills increase gradually from stop to stop. There is no short cut in this route. Stops are sequenced in a particular way to maximise the best outcome.
Learning Chinese is a stimulating and joyful adventure. Yet, it is certainly not the easiest thing to do in the world. However, for students who are persistent and ready for the challenges, this “express” route will promise them a fantastic and rewarding experience.