Here is a suggested curriculum, designed for those who want to live and work in China, and make friends with Chinese people:
Chinese Made Easier Books 1-5
Specifically designed to meet the day-to-day communicative needs of westerners who are living and working in China.
The content is both practical and relevant.
The Chinese grammar is explained simply and clearly.
The romanization is gradually phased out over the whole course rather than the all-then-nothing approach of most Chinese textbooks.
Learning to read Chinese characters is also introduced in manageable bites.
Chinese Traditions & Festivals
[start this after Chinese Made Easier Book 4]
An easy Chinese reader covering Chinese festivals and traditions. This book will also help you strengthen your character recognition.
Speaking Chinese About China (Vol. 1)
It deals with Chinese geography, history, politics, economy, society, education and philosophy, hence giving you a general overall picture of Chinese culture.
Chinese Made Easier: published by Shaanxi Normal University Press (Xian)
Chinese Traditions & Festivals: published by Shaanxi Normal University Press (Xian)
Speaking Chinese About China: published by Sinolingua Beijing
All these textbooks can be purchased from Ellen Zhu in Beijing: firstname.lastname@example.org and http://studychineseculture.com/index.asp
Chinese Made Easier can also be purchased in America: http://www.chinesemall.com/chmaea2edvo1.html
For more details on these textbooks, see the language learning article "Some Good Textbooks"
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