You probably want to know why the Graded Readers, Mandarin Companion, are so good.
And I actually have the creator right here with me.
Jared: Hey, Kwadwo, what’s going on, man? Good to be here.
Kwadwo: Thanks Jared. And Jared’s actually going to share with you since he’s the producer of Mandarin Companion. He lived in China for eight years. He still owns a business in China. He’ll share with you why they’re so good. And, of course, you expect the creator to say they’re so good, but actually, I’m parroting what people tell me in my paid courses who actually bought Mandarin Companion and use those to help themselves self-study.
Jared: Wow. Thanks, Kwadwo. It’s great to be here. You know, Mandarin Companion, my opinion, yeah, they’re the best Graded Readers out there for anyone learning Chinese.
What makes them so good?
I think number one, they’re just so easy to read. But really, like most people, if you like our lowest level, breakthrough level books, use only 150 basic characters. If you’ve been studying Chinese for just even under a year, you know 150, 200 characters, you can pick up one of these books and start reading a book in Chinese. That’s a big deal, right? That’s a real big deal.
So not only are they just easy to read, but they’re also fun. They’re enjoyable stories. I mean, there’s a lot of great stories out there. And don’t get me wrong, but what we’ve done is we’ve taken popular stories that are familiar to western audiences, and we’ve not just translated, but adapted and simplified them to China and in Chinese so that you can easily read something that is fun and enjoyable. It’s something you’ll want to read.
We get a lot of comments and reviews from readers where they will say like, “Oh, I just totally got lost. I forgot I was reading in Chinese.” Or people recounting their experience the first time they laughed in Chinese or something like that. And it’s just a memorable experience.
And not only that, it’s like you’re improving your Chinese and you’re not even trying. Sometimes, one way I described it as that it felt like I’m cheating on a test. You know, your Chinese is just getting better and all you’re doing is reading and you’re actually enjoying it. And it’s a wonderful feeling.
Kwadwo: It really is. I mean, the intro was not hyperbole. The people that are paying me to coach them, the ones that actually go and buy your books, they end up just saying how good they are and a good number of them use them in replacement for their textbooks.
So like they may have purchased a textbook or like a self-study book, but they end up just sticking with Mandarin Companion and then using it with like techniques I teach them to study with their language exchange partner.
Three Levels of Books
Kwadwo: Tell me, Jared, when somebody studies with Mandarin Companion, there are three levels. Can you share a quick bit about those three levels?
Jared: Yeah. You bet.
Kwadwo: That way, if they want, they can pick the right one.
Jared: You’re right. So, there are three levels right now. We’re looking to expand that in the future, but we have 150 character, 300, and then 450 character levels. Now, those characters, they’re not just random characters and they’re all the same character set as a core character set for that level. And what this is based on is something called a Corpus Analysis.
So a Corpus is something you collect a whole bunch of natural language, and then you analyze that. But the Corpus that we have is not just like natural occurring Chinese. This is like Chinese that has been taught to people learning Chinese as a second language. So we’ve transcribed textbooks. We’ve transcribed recordings of many, many lessons in Chinese from many different teachers and tutors. And we’ve used that as a basis of the analysis. And so from that, we are able to run what are the most frequently used characters that are taught to learners. And from that, we then create that leveling system.
So, as mentioned, the breakthrough level is written using 150 basic of those characters. Then the level one, it uses 300 characters. So, that 300 character set includes, of course, the breakthrough. So it’s like it builds on each other.
Kwadwo: Oh. Okay.
Jared: So once you get to, yeah, these are the level one books. So after you’ve gone through the breakthrough level, you should be able to easily move to level one. And then once you get through level one, you should easily be able to move into level two.
Each book also has keywords that are introduced throughout the story. And these are words or characters that fall outside of the core character set. And so you are introduced to new words, but as we introduce those, we make sure there’s proper repetition throughout the book, enough context so you can try to understand them. There’s also a definition and a provided for those keywords as well, for the first time they appear in the books.
So it makes it very easy to read. And it’s not just…You are practicing and you’re reinforcing what you’re learning and you’re seeing natural language and context. But you’re also being exposed to sets of new words in context, and you’re going to see them again and again.
And so now it’s easy to pick those up and that’s, Kwadwo, even one of the reasons why you might, you said some people say, “Yeah, I’m just leaving my textbook behind. And I’m just reading these books and learning from them.”
Kwadwo: It’s very true. And you guys that are watching, the reason I brought Jared here is to explain a little bit, the magic behind Mandarin Companion.
But if you want to get those books, I got them linked up below. ⬇️
Click on the link, go buy them on Amazon. Jared would appreciate it, but actually, you as a self studier, you’re just going to make progress. That’s what I’m here to do is help you make progress.
Breakthrough level (150 unique characters):
Level one (300 unique characters):
- The Secret Garden
- The Monkey’s Paw
- The Country of the Blind
- The Ransom of Red Chief
- The Sixty Year Dream
- Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Curly Haired Company
- The Prince and the Pauper
Level two (450 unique characters):
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