Tuesday, January 02, 2007

No Sweat Cantonese (Review I)

I made it about halfway through this book before I decided to put it aside for awhile. Each chapter was broken down in sections: vocab, conversations, phrases, grammar. This is not so bad. I thought it was a nice layout. The problem is that there were obvious holes in the lesson plans. For example, only the vocab section included characters. Everything else was romanized. Despite my loathing of any book that looks down on its students by only using romanization, this wouldn't have been so bad had there been more explanations about how the elements of the sentences were put together to mean what they mean. Basically, you had a sentence or phrase phonetically written out and its colloquial meaning underneath. There was no way a student could break the sentence apart to see how it worked so that he/she could begin making his/her own sentences. To further complicate matters, almost all chapters used unintroduced grammar and vocab that were not explained until later chapters if at all. There were also plenty of editing errors like multiple tones on one word or typos. The CD also did not always follow the format of the book. The Chinese language font used was also pretty difficult to read; too bulky and unclear.

However, there was some good points. There are little nuggets of value sprinkled here and there such as the high falling tone was not that commonplace or that the 'ng' sound at the beginning of syllables could be dropped completely. Unfortunately, all in all, this is a glorified phrasebook and not a very good one at that. I titled this as Review I because I didn't finish the book. Maybe after I've gained more understanding of Cantonese, I will go back to it to finish it. But for now, it is at the bottom of my list of things to read.

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