I used this book in my third year Chinese Class2000/4/1
This book is an excellent choice for a third year Chinese class. It not only teaches the fundamentals of newspaper Chinese, which is the basis for modern Chinese formal prose (shumianyu, not oral Chinese) it teaches how to identify gramatical markers and which use they have. The articles are relevent to contemporary China and provide an interesting starting point for oral discussions. Gaining access to newspaper Chinese introduces you to an entirely different type of journalism, and a valuable resource for understanding contemporary China. And we can no longer dismiss such publications as purely propaganda for the Communist Party, because the media has become much more liberalized and diverse opinions are appearing.
Jonathan C. Kuah
The only major discomfort I have with the book is the format. For example, if one character has been introduced before but not the entire word, the book forces you to turn back and look at when the character was first mentioned. I don't understand why doesn't it just list the words invididually in order instead of by character. I hate having to flip back and forth because there are so many characters which makes it too annoying and slow. This book could definitely be more clear and concise when it comes to helping me learn Mandarin.
This is a terrible book for learning to read Chinese newspapers. All the newspaper articles are out of date, some of the terminology is outdated (according to my professor), there isn't enough space between the lines to write notes (this drives me NUTS), and the grammar explanations are almost completely incomprehensible. I did a lot better when I had a teacher explaining Chinese grammar to me in CHINESE than when I use this book to study Chinese grammar in ENGLISH. The book also switches between traditional and simplified, but only offers an alternative simplified version of the article when the article is in traditional (but none of the vocabulary is available in simplified!).
Not recommended. Ever. The companion workbook is even worse. If you use this book, you'd better have an amazing teacher.