FDTL 46/99

Chinese language skills for Britain: dissemination of best practice

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Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning

Centre for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language

Institute for Chinese Studies



Reading: Guide for Students

The 17 articles in this session are taken from newspapers published in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The articles cover the following 6 topics: social, educational, economic, political, military and foreign relations. It is possible, with a teacher’s guidance, for a beginner to complete the session after only 17 weeks, when you should be able to read Chinese newspapers with the help of a dictionary. Each lesson contains the following five sections.

1.      Reading text

2.      Vocabulary

3.      Reading tips

4.      Sentence patterns and function words

5.      Reading practice

Where do I start?

It is always better to start with the Vocabulary section of each lesson and learn the new words. Then read though the explanations in the Sentence patterns and function words and Reading tips, followed by the Reading exercises. Finally you should be able to read the Reading text.

How to use a Chinese-English dictionary?

A Chinese character consists of ‘brush’ strokes, often forming some regular components. Counting strokes is an essential skill to learn. In fact, many indexes of dictionaries are listed according to the numbers of strokes. Sometimes, a radical which is a part of a character can give you a “hint of the meaning”. Recognising Chinese characters is not that difficult!

How to remember Chinese words?

It is always a good idea to make flashcards for new words: write the Chinese on one side and English and Pinyin on the other, so that you can put cards in your pocket and look at them or test yourself whenever and wherever you have a chance. Please note that the characters in brackets in the vocabulary list are full-form characters, which are used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Remembering the pronunciation can also help you to remember each word, but don’t worry too much about how correctly you can say them.

How to read Chinese sentences?

Chinese sentences are formed in regular patterns and Chinese grammar is very easy and clear compared with many other languages. If you follow the guidance in each lesson, you will very soon be able to find your way around Chinese newspapers.