'Advanced' Chinese - The Independent Reader

I picked up a useful book from Eslite Xinyi store the other day called “The Independent Reader” by Vivian Ling, for only 500NT. I’m studying Chinese at MTC in Shi-da in my first term and have learned Chinese for a few years back home (Chinese studies was one of my majors).

Being at my stage of learning Chinese seems to me to be the most daunting stage to be at. I might have a decent vocabulary, can hold a fairly decent conversation in Chinese and understand most things people say to me if they don’t speak too fast, but it seems like at this level there’s a massive learning curve still to go and explosion of vocab items. That’s why when I read the preface to this book I was suitably excited:

Before it gets into the readings, it has a kind of introductory chapter called ‘getting acquainted with your tool kit’, where it outlines the hurdles that remain at the ‘advanced’ level of Chinese study, which, by and large, are the very things I’ve had trouble with, namely the explosion of unfamiliar vocabulary when you start to read newspaper/magazine articles and more ‘academic’ writings, and long and contorted sentences held together by 語法詞. Does this sound familiar to any learners of Chinese out there? :stuck_out_tongue:

I haven’t had a chance to look at the book in detail but it is divided into 12 chapters each covering broad topics like culture, economics, politics, etc., each one comprising about 4-5 articles each about 2 pages long, by many different authors, mostly scholars and professionals in each field. There is a fairly long list of vocab words for each article, but they aren’t all translated - instead, the pronounciation is given (in Pinyin), for the reader to look up in the dictionary at his/her leisure. There are also some practice exercises making up sentences, but the most important part is the questions for discussion, which aim to develop active skills so students can express their opinions on the readings orally and in writing - ie. it is the writer’s hope that the book is not just used in the ‘conventional’ way as an advanced reader.

Has anyone else used this book? Personally, it looks to be the right next step for me, knowing my level of Chinese. I’d be interested to know if there’s anyone else out there at a similar level who’s had the same frustrations, and the best way to use a book like this. I was thinking of maybe one article a week as additional self-study on top of my MTC course…

Hi there swan

I’ve just come to the end of said book in my one-to-one lessons. IMO a big book like that is a good thing to have for 500NT. I think a number of the articles are well-written and genuinely interesting, although many are pretty heavy-going, topic wise. I’d say reading one chapter a week is a good idea, but not every day at 8 a.m. like I’ve been doing because it can get pretty 悶 men, if you know what I mean. Call me a slacker, but that’s not the time of day I want to be thinking about the restructuring of state-owned enterprise or whatever. Anyway, there’s certainly lots of useful vocab in there so if you work your way through it can only do good for your reading. Yup. OK, that’s all the penetrating insights from me for now. Good luck :sunglasses:

It’s probably a bit too 高級 for me…Shi-da offers it as a subject at a level that’s a fair bit higher than what I’m studying now, but maybe one to think about taking in a couple of terms. Or I could just fit in an article now and then for self-study, certainly isn’t beyond me. Each article does have a LOT of vocabulary, though. I could always discuss the more interesting articles with a language exchange partner, I guess - assuming both of us find them interesting! :slight_smile:

I reckon it’s time to start reading straight newspapers. The worst thing about the Advanced reader is that it still babies you. Too many translated new words. You feel ready for a steep curve? Grab a newspaper and a Chinese/Chinese dictionary. Seriously. It really doesn’t take long until the discomfort eases. Half an hour a day depending on how busy you are.

Apple daily is particularly easy and the paff is quite amusing.