- Advanced Chinese: Intention, Strategy, and Communication
Advanced Chinese is an innovative and carefully crafted textbook for advanced learners of Chinese—that is, students on the intermediate high level (OPI scale) who are moving up to the advanced level. The book consists of fourteen lessons with interesting and intellectually stimulating literary essays. It can be used for a year-long course.
Each lesson in the book starts with an introduction that deals with the content and structures of the lesson and the major learning tasks students are expected to perform. The learning objectives and desired learning outcomes are proficiency-oriented and communicative in nature. Part 1 of each lesson is a “Guide to the Text” written in Chinese, a simplified version of the lesson. The introduction and part 1 contain useful information for the students to become focused on the learning objectives and to activate their prior knowledge about the content they are going to learn. The second part of each lesson consists of learning activities that assist students with vocabulary development. Part 3 is the main text, in both simplified and nonsimplified Chinese characters. The next two parts are a vocabulary list and an explanation of word usage and sentence patterns with illustrative sentences. Part 6 is a very distinguished section in that it provides rhetorical strategies that are especially useful for developing an advanced level of proficiency. For instance, as more and more written and formal language is required in written exercises, a list of commonly used written expressions is provided in lessons 2 and 3. Part 7 is also a very effectively designed section that consists of a wide variety of exercises that engage students in developing both basic fundamental skills such as word, expression, and sentence patterns and advanced-level skills such as allegorical sayings, double negation as a way to reinforce statements, exaggeration devices, rhetorical questions, and allusions. The lesson ends with part 8, a dialogue that is written based on the content of the lesson. It helps students to practice their speaking skills and also provides an opportunity for students to practice recognizing the difference between colloquial discourse and more formal discourse. In addition to the fourteen lessons, the book also provides supplementary readings at the end of the book. The content of the additional essays is related to the main texts. Instructors can choose appropriate readings to meet the local needs of their students.
There are several striking differences that distinguish Advanced Chinese and make it valuable. First, it is proficiency oriented, aiming at developing advanced skills of Chinese language proficiency such as the ability to narrate, to describe, to [End Page 236] persuade, and so on. The second unique feature is its careful design of content and learning activities. A spiral principle is applied both in terms of content coverage and in terms of learning tasks. For instance, in order to assist students in developing the ability to narrate, a group of narrative stories is used. Systematic recycling of words, structures, and discourse devices is also employed in the design of this book. For instance, the book often provides systematic and detailed summaries of functional words such as connectives, particles, and prepositions with explicit and ample explanation and examples. It lays down a framework for students to learn those frequently used functional words with lots of suggestions for students to develop their independent learning strategies. Another example of careful craftsmanship of Advanced Chinese is its efforts of scaffolding; that is, the learning tasks move from easier to more challenging levels. For instance, the lesson often begins with a teacher-prepared, easier reading to help students get a general idea of the story, which facilitates the students’ reading of authentic materials.
Another distinguishing characteristic of Advanced Chinese is its emphasis on the development of students’ process-oriented tactics and skills. It assists students in becoming independent and strategic readers by explicit teaching of metacognitive skills such as guessing word meanings from various linguistic and pragmatic contexts...