Chinese Phrases for Dummies
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  • Chinese Phrases for Dummies
  • Wendy Abraham
  • Published by: Wiley Publishing, Inc.
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 2005

Chinese Phrases for Dummies offers students an introduction to the language by focusing on a number of useful phrases and applying them to common situations one would encounter while traveling to China. While working with this book, students will learn phrases that will help them ask for directions, express numbers, time, and dates, have small talk, and even deal with problems and emergencies.

Review posted: 04/12/2013
Have you used this book?

Want to learn how to operate Windows? There’s a “Dummies”book for that. What about how to go antiquing? There’s a “Dummies” book for that, too. There’s also one for learning about wine, breast cancer, or the Bible. Basically, if you want to learn something, there’s a book from the Dummies series to teach you, and that goes for languages as well. So here we are, reading the Chinese Phrases for Dummies book.

The first thing you’ll notice about Chinese Phrases for Dummies is that it doesn’t read like a language book; it reads like a Dummies book. The series is known for making things a little fun and simplified for the person who simply thought they couldn’t learn. The objective of a Dummies book is to prove you wrong; no matter how much of a dummy you are, you can learn!

"The first thing you’ll notice about Chinese Phrases for Dummies is that it doesn’t read like a language book; it reads like a Dummies book."

In one way, the book reads much like a teacher would talk. Not only is the book written in casual language, but it also offers a lot of peripheral information to get you to learn. It doesn’t purely present the language; the author works extra hard to engage even the daftest reader. Part of this means the book avoids written Chinese. Remember, this is just a book to help you get some basic phrases down. However, it can sometimes be confusing as the phrases are not listed in a neat, systematic format like other phrase books. Instead, the words are often dispersed throughout otherwise English sentences, forcing the student to hunt for the material. This makes it slightly tricky to learn.

When you’re using a phrasebook, a lot of times you just want to look up a phrase in English and find the translated version in the language you are studying, in this instance Chinese. However, this book always presents the Chinese version first and then gives the English translation. While this is okay, it may not always be convenient. You’ll fumble around a lot longer to find the sentence that means “I don’t want spicy food” than you would with another phrase book.

Chinese Phrases for Dummies is quite a cool book to read if you’re learning Chinese on your own, though. It reads so easily that you rarely feel like you’re studying. Unfortunately, though, that usually means you’re really not. As a student you’ll need to devise your own way to really get the phrases down and ingrained in your mind. As there are no worksheets or practice exercises, you’ll have to create your own or make sure to practice with a native Chinese speaker. As much as the Dummies series would like you to believe, there’s really no shortcut for learning a language. It’s great that the material is presented in a fun, casual way, but it still takes constant studying and discipline to really learn.



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