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DigMandarin’s Book Of the Month: Barron’s AP Chinese Language and Culture Study Guide”- April 2014

Hello, Mandarin learners! Today, we are launching DigMandarin´s new monthly periodical series: “DigMandarin´s Book Of The Month”. For the following months, DigMandarin will review new and engaging books. These books will not only be about learning Mandarin, but also about the history and culture of China. For the debut of this new series, we reviewed a book covering both areas: Barron’s AP Chinese Language and Culture Study Guide.


ap chinese bookThis AP Chinese book is divided into the 4 areas of Language learning: Listening, Speaking, Writing, Reading, with a chapter dedicated to each one of these areas. As a bonus, it also has two chapters with Cultural Notes about China, completely written in Traditional and Simplified characters (motivating you to learn to use a Chinese-English Dictionary, as well as to get accustomed to reading in characters). In any chapter, the standard format will be divided into: General Information, Learning Strategies and Techniques, Example Questions and Explanation.

The book is structurally divided into:

  1. Introduction, explaining what the format is and what will be covered on the AP Chinese exam, as well as the three modes of Chinese required: Interpersonal, Interpretive and Presentational.
  2. Listening Comprehension, teaching techniques in order to better understand conversations.
  3. Reading Comprehension, training for acceleration the reading speed and better comprehension of texts.
  4. Writing Skills , advising and instructing on the different formats and techniques for different types of texts.
  5. Speaking Skills, aiding with pronunciation and confidence in order to practice your fluency without fearing error.
  6. Grammar Review, reviewing grammar and spoken language concepts in order to solidify a foundation of knowledge over the other areas.
  7. Cultural Notes, providing cultural knowledge about China such as Geography, History, Politics, Economics, Art and Population.
  8. Model Exam 1
  9. Model Exam 2

Here is a picture showing some of the techniques and lessons taught by the book:
ap chinese book

Although this book is focused on preparing AP Chinese Language and Culture students for tests, it is a very useful tool for intermediate and advanced learners.

Its comprehensive grammar guide chapter is easy to understand and excellent for reviewing concepts of syntax. It is divided into the topics of :

  • Complements
  • Sentences with Special Predicates
  • The Passive Voice
  • Existential Senteces
  • Sentences with Verbal Constructions in a Series
  • Pivotal Sentences
  • Comparisons
  • Expressing Emphasis
  • Complex Sentences
  • Common Sentence Patterns in Spoken Chinese

Finally, it can be an excellent way to practice for other Chinese standardized tests, such as the HSK and the SAT Chinese Subject Test.
**If you want to learn more about AP Chinese Language and Culture, click here.

Thumbs Up

  • Logically Separated into sections of Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking , Grammar and Culture of China
  • Two full length AP Chinese practice exams with answer keys and explanations in both Traditional and Simplified Characters
  • Two Listening Comprehension Practice audio CDs
  • Includes a list of resources such as websites, news channels and other learning tools

Thumbs Down

  • Culture section is entirely in Chinese, making it unsuitable for Beginners
  • Black and white text and images, making it a little difficult to read
  • Big and heavy, so not easy to carry around

Recommended For…

  • AP Mandarin Students and Prospective SAT Chinese Subject Test takers
  • Intermediate and Advanced Students looking to review Mandarin grammar, but also practice for the AP Chinese test as well as other standardized tests, such as the HSK and the Chinese Language SAT Subject Test.
  • Beginners can also use it to see the Learning Resource index in the end of the book, indicating websites and other learning materials. Furthermore, this book can be used as a curriculum guideline for your private or independent Mandarin studies.

Ways to Use It

  • As a study guide to Chinese Standardized tests, such as the Advanced Placement Chinese Language and Culture,HSK and SAT Chinese.
  • Work on one specific skill,such as Listening with its two included Audio CDs, or with Reading by trying to read passages in Characters .
  • Review grammar and syntax concepts for Intermediate and Advanced Level students practicing conversation.
  • Use passages on Cultural Notes to practice reading books about China.

Where to find this book

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Eva Salustino

Eva Salustino is a Brazilian student who has been learning Mandarin Chinese for 1 year and a half. She enjoys reading about Chinese history and culture and hopes to someday travel to China. She would love to share her learning experience with all the learners and make more friends here.

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