‘New Practical Chinese Reader’ Textbook Series: Brief Review and Overview of Content

Students of Chinese may be familiar with the New Practical Chinese Reader, a series of six textbooks by Beijing Language and Culture University Press first published in 2002.

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The format of each lesson remains more or less consistent throughout all 70 lessons. Most lessons consist of three main texts, with related pronunciation drills, speaking and writing exercises, and grammatical explanations. Audio and video materials accompany the texts. An additional workbook is available to be used alongside the main textbook.

I first came across the New Practical Chinese Reader when I was in Beijing in 2007. At that time, there were not nearly as many materials for learning Mandarin as there are today.

Is the New Practical Chinese Reader a good textbook?

Certainly, some criticisms can be made. Firstly, as is common with many government-sponsored Chinese learning materials, there is too much focus on “cultural” information and little interest in “practical” communication. For example, Lesson 17 is about buying a 旗袍 (a traditional Chinese style of dress), Lesson 19 compares Chinese and Western paintings and Lesson 20 is about Chinese New Year.

In addition, the strong grammatical focus of the books may overwhelm some readers. Lesson 12, for instance, discusses with “sentences with a subject-predicate as predicate” while Chapter 34 deals with “interrogative pronouns of indefinite denotation”. Mandarin grammar enthusiasts like myself, on the other hand, may find this kind of approach appealing.

Some of the dialogues may seem a little “stiff”, but to be fair this criticism can be leveled at most textbooks.

lesson4Despite these flaws, however, I consider the New Practical Chinese Reader to be a good learning resource, especially from the second book onwards. The pronunciation and substitution drills (where sentence patterns can be repetitively practised), grammatical explanations and language function examples are pretty good. Having said that, it may be the case I have developed a kind of ‘Stockholm syndrome’ after using these books for so many years.

At the very least, this textbook series contains an abundance of very useful information. One problem is that, since the textbook is intended to be studied chronologically, it is not always straightforward to find some details later on.

The following is an overview of this textbook series, focusing on grammar points and language functions covered in each chapter.  Perhaps this overview may help students using the New Practical Chinese Reader to review key points more effectively.

New Practical Chinese Reader: Textbook 1

Chapter

Sentence Structure

Language Functions

1

1. Chinese word order

Subject + Predicate

1. Saying hello

2. Greetings

2

1. Sentences with an adjectival predicate

1. Greetings

2. Asking what someone wants

3

n/a

1. Identifying people

2. Asking someone’s nationality

3. Introducing people

4

1. Sentences with

1. Asking for permission

2. Asking someone’s name

3. Introducing oneself

5

1. Questions with an interrogative pronoun

1. Asking for directions

2. Looking for someone

3. Making an apology

4. Asking about someone’s occupation

6

(Review)

1. Sentences with a verbal predicate

1. Making suggestions

2. Asking someone to repeat something

3. Making comments

7

1. Attributives expressing possession (i.e. )

2. V/A-not-V/A questions

V/A++V/A+O

3. Abbreviated questions with

4. The position of adverbs and

1. Meeting someone for the first time

2. Talking about one’s major

8

1. Numbers from 11-100

2. Number-measure words are attributives

Nu+M+N

3. Sentences with

没有/有+O

4. Questions with or 多少

1. Talking about one’s family

2. Talking about one’s university

9

1. Expressing the date and days of the week

2. Words expressing time as adverbials

a) TW+S+VO/A

b) S+TW+VO/A

3. Sentences with a nominal predicate

S+Nu-M

4. Using 好吗 to ask a question

1. Making an appointment

2. Asking about someone’s age and birthplace

3. Celebrating someone’s birthday

10

1. Prepositional phrases and

2. Sentences with double objects (1) using and

给/送+Pr/N(person)+NP(thing)

3. The adverb in sentences with an adjectival predicate

S++A

1. Likes and dislikes

2. Shopping

3. Solving language problems

11

1. Telling time

2. Sentences with optative verbs (1): , , 可以 and 应该

3. Sentences with serial verb phrases (1): Purpose

S+V1O+V2O

4. Sentences with double objects (2): and

1. Asking about time

2. Expressing one’s ability

3. Expressing permission or prohibition

12

1. Sentences with a subject-predicate as predicate

S1+S2+Predicate

2. Alternative questions with 还是

3. Sentences with an optative verb (2): 要,想,愿意

1. Talking about one’s health

2. Expressing one’s desire or need

13

1. The particle (1)

(i.e. realization/completion of an action)

V++Nu-M/A/Pr+O

2. Pivotal sentences

S+V1+O1(i.e.S2)+V2+O2

3. Sentences with an optative verb (3): 可能,会

1. Making a phone call

2. Renting a house

3. Asking for suggestions

4. An invitation

14

(Review)

1. Four kinds of simple sentences

a) Sentences with a verbal predicate

b) Sentences with an adjectival predicate

c) Sentences with a nominal predicate

d) Sentences with a subject-predicate phrase as predicate

2. Six question types

a)

b) V/A-notV/A

c) interrogative pronouns

d) 还是

e) 好吗

f)

1. Making a complaint or an apology

2. Passing on someone’s regards

3. Extending holiday greetings

4. Suggestions and invitations

New Practical Chinese Reader: Textbook 2

Chapter

Sentence Structure

Language Functions

15

1. The complement of state

V++Adv+A

2. The particle (2)

(i.e. confirming completion/realization of something or some situation)

V+O+

3. Reduplication of verbs

AA, AA and ABAB

4. Numeration for numbers from 100 to 10,000

1. Saying hello

2. Confirming that something has happened

3. Commenting on one’s actions

4. Changing money at the bank

5. Describing a place one has visted

16

1. The simple directional complement using and

V+O+来/去

2. The sentence (1)

S++O+V+other elements

3. The time-measure complement (1)

(V)+O+V+time-measure complement

1. Filling out forms

2. Borrowing books

3. Returning books

4. Making new friends

5. Leaving and coming back in a moment

17

1. The phrase (1)

Pr / N / A +

2. Comparisons using the preposition (1)

a) S++N/Pr+A

b) S++N/Pr+VP

3. The complement of quantity

S++N/Pr+A+Numeral-measure word phrase

1. Describing things

2. Comparing things

3. Buying clothes

18

1. The resultative complement

S+V+V/A(++O+)

2. The sentence (2)

a) S++O+给/送/找+O(+)

b) S+Adv++O+V+来/去(+)

3. The sentence (2)

S++N/A/Pr/Vp+

1. At the post office

2. Describing things

3. Uncertainty

4. Reminding

5. Taking the bus

19

1. Using 不一样/一样 to make comparisons

+NP+()+一样+A/VO

2. The time-measure complement (2) (i.e. double )

V+Time-measure complement+()+O

3. Sentences with serial verb phrases (2)

1. Expressing the duration of time

2. Talking about hobbies

3. Exhanging greetings

4. Saying goodbye

20

(Review)

1. The six basic functional components of a Chinese sentence: subject, predicate, object, attributive, adverbial, complement

2. Sentences with a verbal predicate (1) (i.e. summary of 10 simple sentences)

1. Asking for reasons

2. Hurrying somebody up

3. New Year’s greetings

21

1. The construction

2. Location words 里边,外边,左边,右边,上面,下面,前边,后边,东边,西边,南边,北边

3. Sentences indicating existence

a) S(phrase indicating persons or things that exist)++O(phrase indicating location)

b) S(phrase indicating location)+有/是+O(phrase indicating persons or things that exist)

1. Talking about the time and location of past events

2. Talking about direction and location

3. Asking about direction

4. Talking about sports matches

22

1. Past experience with

V+(+O)

2. The action-measure complements and

S+Adv+V+O(Pr)+Nu+action-measure word+O

3. 虽然,但是/可是

1. Talking about a past experience

2. Looking for a job

3. Making an appointment or a date with someone

4. Making comments

23

1. An action that is going to take place in short time with 要,就要 and 快要

V/A(+O)+

2. The complex directional complement:

The directional verbs 上,下,进,出,回,过,起 with simple direction complements and

3. Notional passive sentences

1. Talking about plans

2. Making suggestions

3. Talking about the weather

4. Purchasing plane tickets

5. Going to a restaurant

24

1. Changed circumstances (1)

with (2)

2. The progressive aspect of an action

正在/在+V+O(+)

3. The construction 不但而且

1. Picking someone up and seeing someone off

2. Talking about changes

3. Talking about living conditions

25

1. The continuous aspect of an action or state with

2. The sentence

S(receiver)++O(agent)+V+other element

3. The resultative complements and

4. The conditional construction 如果

1. Talking about an incident

2. Visiting a patient

3. Making complaints

26

(Review)

1. Sentences with a verbal predicate (2)

a) sentences with

b) sentences indicating existence

c) Notional passive sentences

d) Passive sentences

2. The aspects of an action

a) completion or realization of an action or event

b) changed circumstances

c) the continuous aspect of an action or a state

d) past experience

e) an action that is going to take place in a short time

f) the progressive aspect of an action

3. Various kinds of complements (1)

a) the complement of state

b) the complement of degree

c) the directional complement

d) the resultative complement

e) the complement of quantity

f) the time-measure complement

g) the action-measure complement

1. Recalling past events

2. Talking about language studies

New Practical Chinese Reader: Textbook 3

Chapter

Sentence Structure

Language Functions

Word Usage and Examples

27

1. The sentence (3)

2. and to express comparisons

3.Separable disyllabic verbs

4. 一边,一边

1. Expressing one’s opinion

2. Giving an example

n/a

28

1. Using 有/没有 to express comparisons

S+有/没有+NP(+这么/那么)+A

2. The rhetorical question (1)

a) 不是吗?b) interrogative pronouns

3. Sentences containing a series of verbs (3)

S+有/没有+O+V2

4. and as resultative complements

1. Comparing

2. Presenting and appreciating a gift

3. Asking in retort

4. Worrying about something

n/a

29

1. Sentences indicating existence or emergence (2)

S(PW)+V++Num-MW+O

2. The reduplication of adjectives

3. The structural particle

4. The sentence (4)

S++O+VV

1. Describing things

2. Emphasizing an affirmation

3. Expressing modesty

n/a

30

1. Sentences indicating existence or emergence (3)

S(PW)+V+Pt or Complement + Num-MW+O

2. indicating a change of situation (2)

3. The complement of state (2)

a) verbal phrase

b) subject-predicate phrase

c) directional complement

d) resultative complement

4. The construction

1. Indicating change

2. Making a summary

n/a

31

1. Enumeration of numbers over 10,000

2. Approximate numbers

a)

b)

c) two adjacent numbers

3. Pivotal sentences (2)

(S1+)没有/有+O(+S2)+V2+O2

4. 只要,就

1. Giving encouragement

2. Asking about something

n/a

32

(Review)

1. Structural particles 的,地,得

(review)

2. Summary of the sentence

3. The adverbs and

1. Making someone’s acquaintance

2. Making a guess

3. Giving a vague response

4. Explaining

n/a

33

1. Potential complement (1)

V+得/不+ Resultative or Directional Complement

2. Extended use of 出来

3. The reduplication of nouns, measure words and numeral-measure word phrases

4. The construction

1. Indicating a possibility

2. Expressing concern

3. Bringing up a topic of conversation

n/a

34

1. Sentences with a subject-predicate phrase as the predicate

2. Interrogative pronouns of indefinite denotation

3. and as resultative complements

4. The subjectless sentence

5. The construction ,也/都

1. Making additional remarks

2. Stressing a point

3. Telling a story

n/a

35

1. Interrogative pronouns of general denotation (1)

2. Fractions, percentages and multiples

3. The construction 也/都+没/不

4. The construction 就是

1. Reproaching and questioning

2. Refusing

3. Making an explanation

n/a

36

1. The potential complement (2)

V+得/不+下/了/动

2. Extended use of 起来

3. The construction

4. The construction 除了以外,都/也

1. Talking about the climate

2. Making a suggestion

3. Expressing a possibility

n/a

37

1. The extended use of 下去

2. Interrogative pronouns of general denotation (2)

3. Making comparisons using the preposition

S++N/Pr+S-PP

4. The constrution

1. In a restaurant

2. Expressing surprise

n/a

38

(Review)

1. Types of complements

2. Flexible uses of interrogrative pronouns

3. The adverbs and

1. Congratulating newly-weds

2. Clarifying a point of view

3. Comforting and consoling

4. Making a decision

n/a

New Practical Chinese Reader: Textbook 4

Chapter

Sentence Structure

Language Functions

Word Usage and Examples

39

1. A+得多

2. 一天比一天+A

3. 不是,而是

1. Expressing necessity

2. Praising and making responses

3. Making complaints or explanations

总是

终于

必须

究竟

40

1. Double negation 两次否定

… and 没有

2. 要是,就

3. 只有,才

4. The detached phrase 独立语

1. Expressing an emphasis

2. Interviewing people

3. Making a speech

几乎

为了

方面

41

1. Sentences with serial verb phrases and a pivotal word 连动兼语句

2. 即使,也

3. 不管,都/也

1. Expressing agreement

2. Making an additional explanation

3. Expressing a sudden realization

关于

受之内

42

1. The rhetorical question (2) 反问句

2. 不但+不/没,反而

3. 不是,就是

1. Spring Festival greetings

2. Asking a rhetorical question

3. Expressing mindlessness

怪不得

尤其

连忙

43

1. Reduplicated adjectives functioning as a predicate

2. The construction V/A+坏/死了

3. The construction 不/()…,就

1. Describing people or things

2. Expressing regret

仍然

还是

那么

似的

44

(Review)

1. Reduplication of verbs and adjectives

2. Ways of expressing comparisons

a) and 不比

b) and 没有

c) 一样/不一样

d) and

e) 越来越

f) 一天比一天

g) 还是

3. Summary of complex sentences

a) combined complex sentences

b) successive complex sentences

c) progressive complex sentences

d) complex sentences of supposition

e) complex sentences of purpose

1. Expressing doubt and disbelief

2. Bargaining for a good price

(5) “only”

一下子

从来

45

1. The prepositional phrase as a complement (1) with

2. Sentences with (3)

3. The construction 无论,都/也

1. Expressing satisfaction

2. Applying for a job

一切

成为

根据

46

1. Pivotal sentences (3)

(i.e. expressing likes and dislikes with 喜欢,爱,称赞,夸奖,欣赏,嫌,怪,批评,笑话)

S+V1+O1(S2)+Predicate

2. The construction

3. The construction 那么,那么

1. Making complaints

2. Making a promise

就是

本来

47

1. Pivotal sentences (4)

(i.e. expressing belief with 称,叫,认为,选)

2. The construction

3. The construction 既然,就

1. Unable to say for sure

2. Explaining reasons

基本上

的时候

也许

48

1. Sentences with (2)

(i.e. expressing view/attitude with affirmative tone)

2. Double interrogative sentences

S+V+O(with Qpr)+

3. The construction 尽管,还是

1. Expressing affirmation

2. Making an estimate

以来

关系到

一直

其实

49

1. Pivotal sentences (5)

(using )

S++O1(S2)+Predicate

2. The prepositional phrase as complement (2)

寄/来/选/出/取++NP

3. 一方面,一方面

1. Persuading or dissuading

2. Giving an explanation

看来

正好

简直

50

(Review)

1. Methods for expressing emphasis

a) rhetorical questions

b) double negation

c) 都/也

d) using

e) using

f) using

2. The modal particles 把,呢 and

3. Summary of complex sentences (2)

1. Narrating

2. Wishing

恨不得

从此

左右

进行

(Only the first four textbooks have been summarised.)

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