Course Meeting Times
Lectures: 3 sessions / week, 1 hour / session
This course, along with 21F.108/158 offered in the spring, form the elementary level of the streamlined sequence, which is for students who have some basic conversational skills gained, typically, from growing up in a Chinese speaking environment, but lack a corresponding level of literacy. The focus of the course is on learning standard everyday usage, on reading in both traditional and simplified characters, and on writing.
Characters and Pinyin
Students are expected to be able to read texts written in either the full or simplified sets of Chinese characters, but are free to choose either one in writing.
Required Learning Materials
Wheatley, Julian. Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin. (The Character Text). (Part I) (Part II)
Li, Duanduan, et al. A Primer for Advanced Beginners of Chinese V.1, 2 (Daxue Yuwen). New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2001, 2003, 2004. ISBN: 0231135858, 0231125577.
There are two versions of this textbook: a simplified character version and a traditional character version. You may purchase whichever one you prefer.
Additional handouts in class.
Concise Chinese-English English-Chinese Dictionary. New York, NY: Commercial Press/Oxford University Press. ISBN: 7100039339. (Optional)
A good beginner's dictionary.
The first two meetings will be devoted to learning about the sounds of the language and the ways we represent them in the pinyin system of transcription. We will also introduce the basics of character writing. By the fifth week, we will begin the first lesson in your textbook, A Primer for Advanced Beginners of Chinese V.1 (Daxue Yuwen), and we will be covering approximately one lesson in that book per week.
Classroom activities will include discussing the content of the texts, using the texts as the basis for short role playing and performance, practicing some of the relevant grammatical patterns, sight reading of supplementary materials, and almost daily quizzes.
You will be asked to learn a selection of the characters introduced in the lesson, not all of them. And you will be asked to learn to recognize both simplified and full form characters from memory. For writing, you may choose one, full form or simplified, as you prefer.
A = 100-95; A- = 94-90; B+ = 89-87; B = 86-83; B- = 82-80; C+ = 79-76; C = 75-70; C- = 69-60; F = below 60
|Class Performance (Attendance 5%, Promptness 3%, Preparedness 5%, and Participation 12%)
|Dictations and Vocabulary Quizzes
|End-of-term Essay (a 2 page double-space typewritten paper using Microsoft Word, 16-point font)
Attendance and promptness is assumed; more than three unexcused absences (a week's worth) lowers your grade one letter; significant lateness will add up to absences. Absences will count as excused ones only if you provide a doctor's note or a note from your academic advisor to the instructor.
Other factors may come in to play, e.g. improvement versus stagnation or deterioration over the course of the semester, and progress relative to starting level.
There are no make-ups for quizzes and tests. If you cannot make the quizzes on time, you should talk to the instructor to make arrangements for you to take the quizzes before your classmates do.
There is no final examination this term.
Homework handed in late will be corrected, but will receive no credit.
Advice on Approaching the Class
Engaging in a language class should not feel like a chore that you resent having to perform. If it does, you should probably do some serious thinking about why you are enrolled. A language, foreign or semi-native, is a discipline to be studied with attention and dedication. It requires a high level of concentration, and a systematic, steady approach. It is in fact a never-ending process, which involves a consistent accumulation of data (vocabulary) to be applied within a complex framework (grammar). As such, learning a language is often frustrating and so it should be dealt with patiently. But the result of understanding of a language provides lifelong satisfaction. If you approach this course by wondering how little work you can do and still get by, or if you approach this course by thinking only about what grade you are getting instead of what you are learning, then you will not succeed. If, however, you approach this class with dedication and a positive attitude, I guarantee that you will be rewarded with the satisfaction that comes from the genuine acquisition of knowledge and skill.