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English title: Taiwan Today: An Intermediate Course
Chinese title: 今日台灣中級漢語課程
Language: Chinese and English
鄧守信, 孫珞
Year: 2004

I first encountered this book in Xinzhu last semester, when our teacher thought it would be a good idea to have more than one text book, a decision I support wholeheartedly. Taiwan Today might also be the perfect choice as a companion text book to more dialogue-focused books such as Practical Audio-Visual Chinese. Gradually, the student is introduced to formal and written Chinese, with the first few chapters being fairly easy, but with rapidly increasing difficulty toward the end. The level was about right for me as a student of book three in the Practical-Audio Visual Chinese, roughly one year after I started studying Chinese.

I like many things about this book. To begin with, the product itself breaths quality. The cover is nice, the paper quality is good and the overall impression is sound. Furthermore, the actual contents of each chapter is interesting, which isn’t true for any other text book I know of. They concern various topics relating to Chinese and Taiwanese society, instead of being carefully designed dialogues between fictive characters. The topics include tea, night markets, sports and leisure activities, food, marriage, religion and much, much more. Each text is presented both in simplified and traditional characters, which would make Taiwan Today a good choice for intermediate students outside Taiwan as well (most topics are for Chinese society in general and not specific to Taiwan).

As if this was not enough, the grammar and exercise are lot more comprehensible than those I’m used to from other text books, including a key at the very end, enabling students to study these chapters more or less on their own (also a somewhat unique feature). The English used is flawless most of the time.

By way of conclusion, this book is really good. It succeeds in areas where most other text books fail (self study, English level) and actually accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. I recommend this book to anyone who is at roughly the right level or slightly above, regardless of if Taiwan is your main focus.

Update: It seems like the book can be ordered here (thanks to Faraaz Damji for the link). It seems to be a new edition, but I think we can safely assume that it’s not worse than the previous one.

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