Any suggestions for beginner chinese textbooks?

i’m to start taking classes at the mtc come june, but wanted to get a head start now before i move to taiwan. i think i’d pretty much flunk the placement test, but i’m a 1.5gen who was born in taiwan and i still understand some mandarin when it’s spoken to me…i just can’t really speak it myself, can’t write, and can only read the simplest of characters. i’d like to be able to brush up enough so that when i do start at mtc, i can avoid getting stuck in the absolute beginner classes.

so any book recommendations would be appreciated. oh, and i’d prefer to avoid overdependence on pinyin since i want to learn chinese the “native” way. thanks.

The book series that is used in every beginner class at MTC is known as:


Books II and III of the series are also used as you develop. Takes about 6 or so months to get through a book. Typical class speed is a chapter a week. The book includes both Pinyin and Zhuyin Fuhao.

This book series is also used at WenHua University and at TaiDa University.

However if you were being extremely modest and in fact your listening and speaking abilities are quite good you could get streamed into an “ABC” (Overseas Chinese) class. Their book is different and I don’t know what it is called. The class is based on the assumption that you can already converse in the language but cannot read or write.

thank you! you’re a lifesaver. i was in taipei just a few days ago, but only now did i realize i should have dropped by the bookstore and picked up a copy of the book. luckily, i found a website in the us that sells them. for anyone else interested, the website is:

and no, i wasn’t being extremely modest…i really have almost no skills in mandarin. once again, thanks!

No problem, any other questions you have I’ll do my best to answer. I’ve been through the mill myself so have a fairly good idea of what goes on.

I forgot to mention that there is also a homework book that is used alongside the text. You should buy that too.

When you show up for enrollment the last thing you do (after paying etc) is talk to a teacher. The teacher will evaluate whether or not you need to take a placement test and if yes which placement test you should take.

As I recall the placement test involves no writing, but a lot of reading and listening comprehension. Good grasp of grammatical precepts is important.

The placement test gives a “rough estimate” and your placement is NOT final, the teachers make the final decision. Your new teacher will evaluate your Chinese and adjust your placement as required. Most people move up from their initial placement but some are moved down. You are free to try to make your case and doing so in Chinese would be particularly persuasive.

Note that all my information is relevant only to normal session. The two month summer session might be different but I seriously doubt it.