by Marjolijn KAISER
Title: Legends & Tales from Ancient China 儿童故事 (2nd edition)
Author/Editor: Pamela Yeh & David G. Beard, with Wang Jihui and Zhou Daibao. Illustrations by John Huang.
Publisher: Printed by Sun Group Co. LTD/New Zealand Chinese Language Association
Price: $25-27.50 (New Zealand)
Type: Book + CD
Audience: Beginning to intermediate students of Chinese (Mandarin), students of English, and speakers of Cantonese
The textbook Legends & Tales from Ancient China (the Chinese subtitle literally means “Children’s Stories,” an adequate description of the content), consists of 25 short stories in simplified characters, pinyin, and English. The stories gradually increase in difficulty, and each lesson has a short vocabulary list, ranging from five to fifteen items. The words and expressions that are included in these glossaries are clearly marked and underlined in the text. The pinyin text is placed directly under the character version, and an English translation is provided on the opposite page. In addition to the textbook, Legends & Tales from Ancient China comes with a CD that includes audio versions of each story in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English. As Mary Gray explains on the China Society webpage (see the link above), the idea behind this method is that people first get familiar with the sounds of a foreign language (whether that is Chinese or English). Only after having listened to the audio several times, should you pick up the book and read along with the CD. If you open the CD on your computer, you will also have access to a file that contains the 25 stories in traditional characters. There is no comprehensive vocabulary list or index in the book.
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