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#6 – Learning Chinese Through Its History and Culture

After lengthy discussions with many teachers, I decided to base my Chinese lessons on my Chinese history book

China:  Land of Dragons and Emperors

This way, you can learn the language, history and culture of China in one fell swoop.

  1. Before beginning this lesson, please sign up for the Chinese lessons by typing in your email in the subscribe box on the right, and you will receive a link to download a PDF copy of my book.  Let us read it together.
  2. Sit in front of your book.  Turn to Page ix.
  3. When we come across words such as China  (zhōng中gúo国)

    I will translate them into Chinese and pronounce them.  Please note that zhōng 中 is in the first tone and gúo 国 is in the second tone.  中 means central or middle and 国 means country or kingdom.  Thus 中 国 means Middle Kingdom or Central Country.  As you progress in your reading, I will write 中国 instead of China and you will gradually recognize the two characters and know they mean China. 
  4. Regarding tones, please return to the lesson titled The Four Tones in Mandarin.  For the first tone 妈 which means mother, note the straight line above the letter ā.  For the second tone 麻which means numb, note the slanted forward slash above ά.  For the third tone 马 which means horse, note the small v above ǎ.  For the fourth tone mà 骂which means scold, note the backward slash above à.  The straight line, forward slash, v and backward slash are the four symbols that indicate the four mandarin tones in pinyin.

 To the Reader

 I (wŏ 我)

bring you (nǐ 你)

gifts from China (zhōng 中 gúo国)

treasures more enchanting than pearls, more precious than jade (yù 玉)

Among these pages you 你 will find tales of dragons (lóng 龙)

and emperors, battles and love affairs.

Did you 你 know paper was first made in China 中国?  So were the wheelbarrow, crossbow, matches, silk (sī 丝)

seismograph, gunpowder, cast iron, stirrups for horses (mǎ 马)

porcelain, printing and many other wonderful inventions.  China’s 中国 history is also full of larger-than-life people; war-lords, emperors, concubines, eunuchs, fierce women.

I 我 will tell you 你 about the six families who ruled China 中国 during the last two millennia, where they (tā men 他 们)

came from and their (ta men de 他们 的)

family secrets.  We (wŏ men 我们) will explore underground tombs, sacred caves full of ancient statues, royal palaces, the Silk 丝 Road and the Great Wall.

This short book holds my (wo de 我 的)

personal list of the most fascinating people (ren 人)

from China 中国.  Their stories have enthralled me 我 throughout my 我的 life.  If knowledge gained from history is the truest education, then this book is the best present I 我 can give you 你.