Integrated Chinese

August 17, 2009, 05:22 AM posted in General Discussion

I'd be interested in your thoughts on Integrated Chinese. This is, I think, the most widely used textbook on US college campuses. It takes a different approach than ChinesePod - much grammar, structures, etc, but I think it's quite a good textbook.

My question: Are you guys using it? Do you know it? Like it? Do you recommend it? What does it do well? Observations?

Any comments are welcome.

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August 17, 2009, 05:32 AM


I used this text a few years ago but developed no firm attachment to it.  I have come to the conclusion that there is no best text; I would prefer having a few different ones on hand.  My current test for a text book would be: how well does it explain the use of 了 le? No single text book ever did it for me.  We were reminded of this a couple of days ago when conversing with a young Chinese boy soon to turn two - he uses 了 in his sentences fine!  Some things are better learnt by using the language than reading the text.

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August 17, 2009, 05:33 AM

多看中国网站和中国节目. 多交流...你的中文一定进步很快.

Can you understand it ?

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August 17, 2009, 06:00 AM

I used Integrated Chinese Part I and Part II a few years ago and really dislike these texts.  I recall quite a few errors, inadequate explanations, and rather boring topics.  The CD's for the lessons were good though.  I think there is a revised edition now and would hope it's better although I haven't seen it.

Two texts I used in China are Standard  Chinese Course by Peking University Press and New Practical Chinese Reader (textbook and workbook) by Beijing Language and Culture University Press.  I prefer either of these to Integrated Chinese. 

Bodawei is right though; no one text will do it all.  Now I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada where Mandarin is widely spoken, so there's plenty of opportunity for practice.

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August 17, 2009, 06:48 AM

The college where I took classes still used the old PCR long after others switched to Integrated Chinese. When they updated, they went with Chinese Link instead of IC.

I'm not sure the question is about that specific book, or about the textbook methods in general.

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August 18, 2009, 12:26 AM

The non-textbook textbook answer:

Having tried to go through 3 different textbook series (Audio/Visual Chinese, Chinese for Today, New Practical Chinese Reader), I pretty much found the best "textbook" was:

  1. A good grapretty much mmar book
  2. A book to learn character reading/writing
  3. A Dictionary
  4. Chinesepod

With those 5 items you have a custom textbook that is more detailed and more interesting to YOU.

Currently "ChinesePod" (listening, dialogs, vocab), "Learning Chinese Characters" (reading, writing, vocab), "Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar" (grammar) and Pleco (dictionary, character/vocab flashcards) form the core of my custom textbook.

As reading comprehension improves, it's helps to keep the interst level up by throwing in real articles, books, comics, that you are intersted in as source material.

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August 18, 2009, 04:39 PM

Lechuan, you're right - the 4 items you list are extremely useful, but colleges and universities love their texts (and actually, many newbie students at these institutions love texts, too.)  I think the 4 ways you list are what many self-motivated, more advanced students might use (I do).

By the way, you do not need a book to learn 汉字.  I've been using Skritter for about 5 months and now I see it is being integrated with CP.  Wonderful!  Even without the magic of Skritter, all you need is to know the rules for stroke order, have lots of paper and pencils on hand, and make time to practice, practice, practice.

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August 18, 2009, 06:09 PM

I've recently been working through the 3rd year textbook used at my school, "Comprehensive Chinese" (hard to find, but you can see it online here - ), and I really like it.

For one thing, its pretty cheap, at $35 for each book (1 book for each semester) and comes with audio recordings on a cd of all dialogues and new words.  Its also like ChinesePod in that its teaching centers around a dialogue for each lesson, an associated "new words" list, and a grammer section that picks out and discusses particular grammer points occuring in the dialogue (like what is done in the podcasts).

Its unlike Chinesepod in that it has a primary focus on the difference between informal, neutral, and formal usage, and specifically in getting used to more formal patterns.  The books in the same series from earlier years may have less of this, though.

I think its a very good text, but I'm not sure its widely used.


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October 06, 2009, 12:31 AM

I started out with Integrated Chinese studying mostly on my own. Accompanying media was pretty lame. I felt that I was really banging my head against the wall sometimes. I am very happy that I found ChinesePod! As I am preparing for my next trip back to China in November, I have picked up Integrated Chinese back up and what was hard is now easier.

I would recommend Learning Chinese Characters by Tuttle as well. Some people definitely will be turned off by the mnemonics and some are too high brow to use them (a lot of pedantic types seem to comment here). As a physician, I ate and breathed mnemonics throughout medical school. I modify most of them. The technique of concocting a story with a giant character for first tones, a fairy for second tone characters, etc., is very helpful for learning. E.g.:

One pictures a giant (first tone) holding a jar (sound clue) sitting on the roof ( ) of a house with a pig () in it, i.e., 家 jia is first tone.