Beyond the Basics suggestions

Anonymous's picture

Greetings. I saw in another thread that a new edition of Beyond the Basics is being prepared and I'd like to suggest a few changes in addition to the glaring one of no digital audio content.


1. The vocabulary lists. It seems some words that any 3rd+ year student should know are listed for study while other more obscure words that appear in the dialog are sometimes left out.

Example: Chapter 12 "kaui le" (happy) is in the vocabulary list while one comes across words like "bi" (to force, to compell) and "pa" (to lie prone) in the dialog. I know everyone has taken different paths to get to upper intermediate books but I'll wager they all learned "kuai le" in their first year studies, and probably had to look up bi and pa.

2. Pinyin for sentence patterns. Patterns are introduced with characters but sometimes since those characters aren't in the vocab lists there is no pinyin reference for how to pronounce it.

Example: Chapter 8 it explains "pan" (to sentence) as a sentence pattern with several examples all using characters and English, yet since pan isn't in the vocab list the reader is left puzzling over a sentence pattern that focuses on a mystery character.

3. Sentence pattern or vocabulary item? Some items introduced as sentence patterns are really nothing more than a vocabulary item and I don't understand why they belong in that section.

Example:Chapter 10 "dan yuan" isn't in vocab list it's in sentence patterns. Why? That's a pretty straitforward item that is easily understood with a simple definition, but when encountered in the dialog if one glances over to the vocab list it doesn't appear because it's received some distinction as worthy of being elevated to sentence pattern status. Above "pan" (to sentence) is another good example.

4.Occasional useless content. I know a student has to learn to realize when they encounter proper names and that dialogs need to use them to be complete, can be excessive.

Example: Chapter 7. If that dialog needs to throw the Chinese word for Mozart in there that's fine... but Mozart, Schubert, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and Schumann? Come on now, we're here to learn Mandarin not classical music, what you're doing here is making the vocabulary list longer than it needs to be and the dialog muddied with a bunch of words that the student likely won't encounter again, won't need to use in conversation, and will thus be forgotten.


Are above example nitpicky? Of course! That's a compliment to the book, the publishers, and the authors on a job well done... overall I've found Beyond the Basics to be a good book with interesting dialog, easy to understand grammar explanations, and a character font I wish every Chinese study book had. With a little work it could be a great book instead of a good one.

Thanks for listening.


Laurel's picture

Thanks so much for taking the time to give us your thoughtful feedback on this book. We will take it into account as we work on the new edition of Beyond the Basics!

-Laurel, Cheng & Tsui Editorial Department