Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 4 sessions / week, 1 hour / session

Course Description

This subject follows Chinese 21F.103 (Chinese III), and is the last in the sequence of subjects that constitutes MIT's foundation in Modern Standard Chinese (Mandarin). The foundation sequence (Chinese I through IV) covers the core grammar of the language, develops a sensitivity to linguistically appropriate behavior, introduces extensive vocabulary and usage as a basis for conversational and reading development, and provides a step-by-step guide to the principles and practice of reading and writing Chinese characters. In Chinese IV, you will consolidate and expand conversational usage and grammatical and cultural knowledge encountered in prior courses in the sequence, while focusing on improving reading and listening abilities. For this last semester in the foundation sequence, you will be able to exalt in the progress you have made over the year and a half as you develop several topics for presentation before the class.


Chinese IV integrates Part 4 - the last part - of J. K. Wheatley's Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin (Units 11 and 12, plus a supplement on Chinese food) with material from Madeline Spring's Making Connections, designed to bolster listening ability, and Linda Hsia and Roger Yeu's, Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, a collection of traditional stories edited for students of Chinese. Character reading will be primarily in the simplified set standard on the Mainland, but from time to time, you will also be asked to read in the traditional set, standard in Taiwan. As before, you can write either character set, as you choose, provided you do not mix sets in a single text. For composition in characters, we hope that, with some assistance, you will be able to use the standard Chinese word processing software now found on most computers. 


Wheatley, Julian K. Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin (Part 4).

Buy at Amazon Spring, Madeline K. Making Connections: Enhance Your Listening Comprehension in Chinese. Simplified character ed. Boston, MA: Cheng and Tsui Company, 2002. ISBN: 0887273661. (Comes with two CDs. The simplified character version [the one with the turquoise cover] is recommended.)

Buy at Amazon Hsia, Linda, and Roger Yeu. Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio. New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, Far Eastern Publications, 1977. ISBN: 0887101143. Expanded to include pinyin and simplified characters, 1982.

Recommended Dictionaries (Optional)

Buy at Amazon DeFrancis, John, ed. ABC Chinese-English Dictionary (regular or pocket edition). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2003. ISBN: 082482766X.
This is the only Chinese-to-English dictionary ordered by alphabet without reference to the head character of a word. In effect, this allows you to look up a word on the basis of its pronunciation alone, with no knowledge of the characters that represent it. (Searching by character is also possible.)

Buy at Amazon Huan, Wang, ed. Cheng and Tsui Chinese-Pinyin-English Dictionary for Learners. Boston, MA: Cheng and Tsui Co., 1999. ISBN: 0887273165.
Organized by character (first character, if compound), with characters listed alphabetically according to pinyin pronunciation - the usual practice with modern dictionaries (other than the ABC Dictionary above). Within each entry, compounds are listed by pronunciation of second character. Entries include part-of-speech, example phrases or sentences (in characters followed by pinyin), and information on usage along with Chinese and English definitions. It uses the simplified set of characters in all entries and examples, with the traditional alternatives provided only for the main entry character. This dictionary was originally published by Beijing Language and Culture University Press in 1998 with the English title Chinese-English Dictionary, and then republished (with modification?) by Cheng and Tsui in 1999. The Chinese name of the Cheng and Tsui dictionary is Jiànqiáo Hàn-Yīng Shuāngjiě Cídiăn "Cambridge Chinese-English Dual-explanation Dictionary" (with Cambridge apparently there just for its commercial appeal).

Buy at Amazon 新华字典 (Xīnhuá Zìdiăn "New China Dictionary"). 10th revised ed. Beijing, China: 商务印书店 (Shāngwù Yìnshūdiàn "Commercial Press"), 2004. ISBN: 7100039312.
This is a very handy Chinese-to-Chinese dictionary available in pocket format with plastic cover. If you see it, buy two - they're inexpensive. Its entry characters are large (but only the simplified set is used in this dictionary), pronunciation is indicated in pinyin and bopomofo; definitions are succinct. However, this is a character dictionary (zìdiăn) not a word dictionary (cídiăn), so compounds are not listed under character entries. Entries are ordered by pinyin, though lookup by radical is also possible. This dictionary is most useful for checking the pronunciation and form of individual characters, and checking for phonetic sets.

Grading and Assignments

A list of daily assignments will be provided at intervals. There will be occasional short, unannounced quizzes on work due that day, and a number of announced tests that will be focused on sentence patterns or reading in characters (in the simplified set, mostly, but some traditional as well). There will also be three assigned presentations, in which groups of two will prepare oral reports, no longer than 5 minutes total, on topics related to class material (in Chinese IV or earlier). These will be neither memorized, nor read out, but will involve speaking from notes (not a full script) to a series of slides, typically, but not necessarily, using Microsoft® PowerPoint®. Presentations will be graded for accuracy of language - including pronunciation - clarity, and interest and creativity.

Grading is weighted as follows:

Reports 45%
Tests 40%
Class Performance 15%


Class performance is evaluated on the basis of preparedness, homework, and participation. Other factors may come in to play in assigning a final grade, e.g.: improvement versus stagnation over the course of the semester, and progress relative to starting level. Quizzes or tests missed without written excuse cannot be made up. Attendance and promptness is assumed; more than 4 unexcused absences (a week's worth) lowers your grade one letter; persistent tardiness will also add up to absences.

How to succeed

  • Don't miss any classes at all - unless you are really ill;
  • Prepare ahead of each class (following the detailed schedule of assignments);
  • Read the material, then produce it from cues until you can; visualize; review old material while you learn new;
  • Keep a running list of questions and notes as you work through the material;
  • Work with classmates; consult with teachers - earlier rather than later;
  • Stay playful!

MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI)

Read about the MISTI program. The MIT China Program (one of the MISTI programs) sponsors students working or teaching in China over the summer or a school year.


Below are three tables:

  • the first details the chronological progression of the course;
  • the second breaks down the components of the main text used, Learning Chinese (Part 4);
  • and the third lists the sections of the Chinese menu.
Part 1

Review of Chinese III

Unit 11 (11.1-11.4)

Making Connections (Chapters 1-2)

Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (Chapters 1-2)

Test 1 on Day #8
Part 2

Unit 11 (11.5-11.7)

Making Connections (Chapters 3-8)

Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (Chapters 3-5)

Presentations during Day #15-17

Test 2 on Day #18

Part 3

Until 11 (11.8-11.10)

Unit 12 (12.1-12.3)

Making Connections (Chapters 9-13)

Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (Chapters 6-10)

Test 3 on Day #30
Part 4

Unit 12 (12.4-12.6)

Making Connections (Chapters 14-16)

Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (Chapter 11-14)

Presentations during Day #37-39

Test 4 on Day #40

Part 5

Unit 12 (12.7-12.10)

Making Connections (Chapter 17-23)

Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (Chapters 15-18)

Presentations during Day #50-52

Test 5 on Day #46


Learning Chinese (Part 4)

Please refer to readings and study materials for the necessary texts and audio files, respectively.

Unit 11
11.1 Constructions with yi "one"

11.1.2 yī + Verbs

11.1.3 yī + Nouns

11.2 Places to see in Beijing (A Dialogue) Ex. 1 11.2


11.3.1 Mild Requests

11.3.2 More Imposing Request

11.3.3 Requests with Implied Criticism; Complaints

Ex. 2  
11.4 A Geography Lesson Ex. 3a, b, c 11.4
11.5 Following a Recipe Ex. 4  
11.6 Xuéxí Hànzì Ex. 5a, b, c, d 11.6
11.7 Australia Ex. 6a, b 11.7
11.8 To Yangzhou By Way of Zhenjiang Ex. 7 11.8
11.9 Confrontation (1)    
11.10 Rhymes and Rhythms    
Unit 12
12.1 Taking Photographs Ex. 1  
12.2 Mei Taide: The Story Ex. 2a, b, c 12.2
12.3 The Tian'anmen Incident Ex. 3 12.3
12.4 Kinship Ex. 4a, b, c 12.4
12.5 Death Ex. 5  
12.6 The Chinese School System Ex. 6a, b 12.6
12.7 Life in Tianjin Ex. 7a, b 12.7

Manner Adverbials

12.8.1 Reduplication and The Adverbial Marker -de

12.8.2 Manner Adverbials vs. Predicate Complements

12.8.3 The Three "de's"

12.4 A Vivid Event (Dialogue)


Confrontation (2) (Dialogue)

12.9.1 Expletives and Swearwords

12.9.2 Dialogue

12.10 The Northwind and The Sun    


The Chinese Menu (Zhōngguó càidān)

Please refer to readings for the text.

Part I: Preliminaries
1 Types of Chinese Food
2 The Names of Dishes
3 Some Specialized Menu Items
4 The 8 Chiense Cuisines (bā ge càixì)
5 Methods of Cooking (pēngtiáo fàngfă)
6 Spices and Seasonings (zuóliào)
7 Ways of Cutting (qiēfă)
8 Tools (gōngjù), with Example Sentences
9 Usage (shuōfă)
Part II: Dialogue in a Restaurant
1 Character Version
2 Pinyin Version
Part III: Sample menu items
1 Lěnghūnlèi = lěngcàilèi "(cold) appetizers"
2 Hăixiānlèi "fresh seafood"
3 Bàochăolèi "quick-stirfried"
4 Ròulèi "meat [pork]"
5 Yóuzhálèi "oil-fried"
6 Jīyālèi "chicken and duck"
7 Shūcàilèi / sùcàilèi "vegetable dishes; vegetarian dishes"
8 Shāguō "earthenware pot"
9 Huŏguō "(fire-pot) hotpot; fondue"
10 Tānglèi "soups"
11 Miànlèi, often divided into tāngmiàn "noodle soup" and lāomiàn "(ladle out-noodles) without soup"
12 Zhǔshílèi "main-food-type = rice dishes", not usually eaten alone in China
13 Diănxīnlèi, i.e. Cantonese "dimsum", as well as light fare from other regions
14 Tiándiănlèi "desserts; sweets"