The biggest challenge of learning Mandarin Chinese is reading and writing Chinese characters. There is no simple way to learn them, they must be memorized one by one.
The Lady In The Painting is a Chinese text aimed at intermediate learners. It uses a vocabulary of 300 characters, which give the reader an excellent foundation in basic Mandarin vocabulary.
The Lady In The Painting was first published in 1957. This current edition includes a CD-ROM with recordings of each sentence and paragraph, along with supplementary exercises and explanations.
The book is available in either traditional or simplified Chinese characters, and the CD-ROM can switch from one to the other. Each of the eight chapters concludes with explanations about the grammar and sentence structure, and the back of the book contains a complete vocabulary index showing grammatical functions, as well as a structure index.
The text of the story itself is just Chinese characters - no pinyin. This is a great format for anyone who is just starting out reading Chinese characters. The limited number of characters used in the book ensures a good familiarity with the vocabulary by the time the book has been read.
The vocabulary section at the end of each chapter, and at the end of the book, uses Pinyin, and the CD-ROM is a useful tool for pronunciation practice and recognition. The text on the CD-ROM can be moused over to show word definitions.
The CD-ROM is a valuable addition to The Lady In The Painting, offering the text in both simplified characters and traditional characters , as well as audio recordings of each sentence and each paragraph. The CD-ROM also contains supplementary exercises and grammar explanations.
One of the big advantages of The Lady In The Painting over a traditional textbook is the absorbing story. It is sure to keep the reader interested and curious about what is going to happen. This makes the learning so much easier, as the student is motivated to learn the characters from a desire to know the outcome of the story. As such, The Lady In The Painting makes an ideal supplement to more traditional textbooks for learning Chinese characters.
Classroom Or Self-Study
The Lady In The Painting could be used in either a classroom setting or for self-study. The grammar explanations are clear enough for the self-learner to absorb, and the additional study material on the CD-ROM offers lots of opportunities for additional classroom work.
All in all, The Lady In The Painting makes an ideal introduction to reading Chinese characters. I highly recommend it to all serious students of Mandarin Chinese.