Making Connections

Anonymous's picture

I really enjoy using the audio materials for this book. However, I am disappointed that there is no transcript available. Do you have any plans to make the transcripts available? If someone else typed up the transcripts would you be willing to make them available? I think the availability of the transcripts would boost your sales.

Laurel's picture

Thanks for your input -- we're glad to hear that the audio is working well for you. Believe it or not, it was actually a conscious decision not to include a transcript in this book. We feel that having a written version to refer to would actually make this particular book less effective, since the goal of Making Connections is to practice and improve listening comprehension skills like understanding the main idea and responding to important information, rather than taking a word-by-word approach to the dialogues. We know this is definitely a different approach than the usual textbook audio, but we think it can work quite well in combination with other types of practice.

Anonymous's picture

I also use the Making Connections CD and although I think your approach is in general a good one there are several places on the CD where no matter how many times I listen I still can't decipher the words being said. This is especially true for the male passages which are sometimes mumbled in a low voice. For those instances there's just no way for someone at my level to reconstruct what's being said. I think a separate downloadable transcript would allow users to "cheat" a bit on the difficult passages without putting the answers directly in the textbook and completely defeating the method. Please consider this consession.

Also keep in mind that the Making Connections method is similar to the "immersion" method used by Rosetta Stone Mandarin. In all the forums I participate in I've only heard frustration and lack of progress with their method, partly because it's not true immersion and I'm sure partly because of their strick refusal to provide supporting material.

Anonymous's picture

I certainly agree that it is possible to use a transcript in a way that would reduce the effectiveness of the dialogs.  So, I agree with the decision not to put the transcripts into the book, but (as the previous poster pointed out) a downloadable transcript would be a good way of making it available, but not *too* available. 

To prevent your clients from getting a transcript is simply arrogant.  I (as a learner) am most qualified to determine how to make the most effective use out of your material.  To echo the previous poster again, many part of the dialog are simply not discernable by someone at an intermediate level.  Without a transcript you are simply denying us the opportunity to learn from those portions of the dialog we can not understand.

Your strategy is similar to selling someone a house, but nailing the doors shut on several rooms because you think they are not useful.  Or like giving someone pecans without the tools to crack them open because you beleive they are more beautiful when left whole.  Or like releasing a movie in chinese to a US audience without subtitles for fear of reducing the visual impact of the film.

The first couple minutes of section 13 are a good example.  I tried and tried, but I could not figure it out.  The book provided some hints, but it was not enough.  So I asked one of my chinese coworkers to give it a listen.  With his help I was able to recognize the meaning of the mumbles and this passage became very helpful.

So please consider making a downloadable transcript available so we can make more effective use of these wonderful dialogs.

Laurel's picture

Thanks for your feedback. We do understand your point of view, and we will certainly take it into consideration the next time we revise this book. For the time being, I just want to reassure you that providing the recordings without transcripts was not an arbitrary decision, but rather was based on the author's many years of pedagogical experience.

Anonymous's picture

It might be helpful to know the author's assumptions regarding not providing transcripts. Was it assumed the material would be used in a classroom environment where a teacher could help with difficult passages? If so, it's probably fine, but my situation is self study. If the method becomes a barrier for self-directed students you may miss out on perhaps the biggest part of the market over time.

I'd like to suggest a quick fix. Go through the CDs and listen for passages where there's definitely a problem with clarity (e.g. the male voice mumbling). Provide a .pdf hint sheet for or those passages. There aren't that many of them. Alternately you could open a "hints" forum and let users offer help to their peers. Your role would be to make sure they don't propagate incorrect translations.


Laurel's picture

Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. You're correct that the book is designed primarily for use within a class, but we do appreciate your point about the needs of independent learners. This issue is definitely something we will take into consideration in future revisions.

Now that you mention it, this forum could be a fine place for discussing difficult passages with other users -- please feel free to use it that way! As you can see, we've made a forum devoted specifically to Making Connections.

wrbt's picture

I must agree with above posters that not having the transcript reduces the quality of this product. When I first bought I remember completely giving up in frustration when I couldn't understand the mumblings in parts of the 2nd disk. I moved on to Across the Straits which provides not only a textbook with vocabulary and grammar points but an additional transcript that's perfect as something to turn to when you're just not getting parts of it. I've seen threads in Chinese language forums where people recomment against this book and for Straits for that very reason, and if I recall correctly one guy even hired a native speaker to transcribe it.

I understand T&S believes the main idea of the passage is the point but how does a transcript hinder that idea? Does T&S also believe Across the Straits is an inferior product since it does offer a transcript? At what point does the weight of learners telling you that having the incomprehensible parts of the dialog as some secret is a bad decision make you rethink your position?


Laurel's picture

Thanks for your comments. This is definitely an issue that we're planning to discuss with the author as we plan the next edition together -- by all means, the customer feedback we've gotten on this point does tell us that it's worth revisiting the issue. I'm glad to hear that Across the Straits is working better for you. Is there anything else you would change to make Making Connections more useful, or was the lack of transcripts the main sticking point for you?

Anonymous's picture

I read the user comment on and he stated that he was very frustrated until he was able to find a chinese friend to transcribe it. I am fluent in four languages and am learning chinese as my fifth. I now know that repitition of the same words in the same dialogue (after the 3rd time) is no where as good as repeating the same words in a different dialogue (doing this stimulates the brain and expands our understanding of word usage...). So I was excited to see this book and planned on using this as an addition.

However due to the lack of transcription and "mumbling" stated by others I will NOT buy this book. I simply do not have the time to put up with inefficiancy. Simple as that. I looked online hoping someone had transcribed it but no luck. If you want this book to say in the classroom then you have achieved your goal.

Anonymous's picture

I think the author’s assumption regarding not providing transcripts is to encourage listeners to use comprehension strategies such as guessing in the context, predicting meaning through content clues, looking for key words to infer ideas, and neglecting the unimportant words and sentences that might be mumbled by the speaker. These strategies might be considered risk-taking: how can one guess the meaning of unknown words and skip the words or even sentences that are deemed “unimportant”? The process of comprehension is taking risk, for the simple reason that a guess can be wrong and what you neglect might be actually very important. I believe that is why we choose this book (Make Connections) to train our guessing and predicting ability.


When I used the book in my class, I showed my students how to guess and how to skip unimportant words or phrases. After one semester’s practice, my students became more comfortable if they did not get the meaning of every word or sentence, but could do the exercises in Grasp the Gist and Listen for Details. They were happy to take risks and tolerate the uncertainty in the process of listening. That is the power of the comprehension strategies: to grasp the main idea based on the context and key words. That is the beauty of this book; it provides valuable opportunities for listeners to use strategies in their comprehension tasks. The book is unique, and really for the purpose of listening comprehension because it does not have written transcripts.  


On the other hand, I also agree that if one uses this book for self study, it would be helpful to first guide the learner into using comprehension strategies. Transcripts for the purpose of self-monitoring might be necessary.

Visitor's picture

Cheung & Tsui,

Any new information on this? Will someone be posting a hint sheet? I tried many times to get the full meaning of these dialogs and yes as the teacher commented it wasn't too hard to pick up the gist of the conversations, but beyond that some of the dialogs are just too difficult to fully comprehend for the following reasons:

1. In several dialogs the male speaker's voice is so shallow and mumbled it just can't be made out.

2. For whatever reason, the recording quality from dialog to dialog varies greatly, some with very clear recording, some sounding muffled, some sounding like 5th generation copies of old tapes.


Any help would be appreciated.

Laurel's picture

Thanks for your comment! As we mentioned previously, please feel free to make full use of these forums as a place to communicate with fellow learners about the material in the book.

We will certainly take this issue into consideration when we work on the next edition. However, we are not currently planning to produce any new supplementary materials for the current edition.


Best wishes,


Editorial Department 

Brian's picture

I got this book & cd's to improve my listening skills through self-study but, instead, it has become a lesson in frustration.  I concur with the other forum comments in that download-able transcripts would significantly enrich the learning experience.  At this point in time, I feel like I've wasted my money on these materials and would not recommend them to other intermediate students.  If Cheng-Tsui chooses to continue marketing these materials without transcripts, I would strongly suggest that you make note of that fact in the product information blurb.

Laurel's picture

Hi Brian,

We're sorry this book didn't work out for you. Your point about including more information in the product description so that the approach could be clearer is well taken, and in fact we will update it to do just that.

If you're looking for a different approach to practice listening comprehension at the intermediate level, you might want to consider Beyond the Basics. The new second edition includes free MP3s that do correspond to the printed material in the book in a way that is perhaps closer to what you were looking for.

Again, we're sorry to hear that you were disappointed, and we wish you the best in your studies.


Editorial Dept.