Sample Textbook for AP Chinese

While Chinese language is now listed as a strategic foreign language for our national security, it is very hard to keep students to stay in the program, especially for the advanced courses. This is because that Chinese language becomes very challenging, at least, in two points at that level.

  1. Although Chinese speaking language is not too hard to learn, the Chinese writing words are seemingly stand-alone characters which must be memorized with a brutal effort.
  2. The pronunciation of every Chinese character must also be memorized with an irrational manner.

On July 13, I gave a presentation on Chinese Etymology at AP Annual Conference 2007 (CollegeBoard) in Las Vegas. In that presentation, I made two statements.

That is, by learning only 220 word roots and 300 compound roots (modules), the original meaning of all Chinese words (60,000) can be read out loud from their faces. This sample textbook has ten lessons.

第 一 課 (Lesson one)

開 學 了

One: 課 文 (text):

見 到 老 師 行 個 禮 ,
看 到 同 學 都 問 好 。
校 園 內 , 青 草 地 上 ,
你 唱 歌 , 我 拍 球 。

Two: 字 根 與 文 化 (Etymology and culture):

  1. 認 識 「 部 首 」 (recognizing the leading radical): The goal of this section is for students to learn 部 首 (leading radical). Students are not required to learn those new additional words.

  2. 認 識 「 詞 彙 」 (recognizing word phrase):

  3. Chinese words have no parts of speech, and Chinese sentence has no tense structure. A Chinese sentence is by gluing a few phrases together. There are four types of gluing words.
    1. Subject-like words, 我 、 你 、 他 、 事 …
    2. Verb-like words, 有 、 見 、 看 到 、 是 …
    3. Modifier-like (adverb and adjective) words, 很 、 都
    4. Punctuation-mark-like words, 了 、 也 、 乎 、 嗎 、 呀 …

Three: 課 業 練 習 (Exercise):

  1. To identify the sentence gluing word(s) in each sentence.
  2. To translate following sentences into Chinese.

Four: 教 師 手 冊 (teacher's handbook):

  1. Some 部 首 (leading radicals) are word roots, but many word roots are not leading radical. Thus, many word roots are not implemented as characters in computer. If a leading radical is not implemented as a printable character in computer, it will be treated as a word root. I will use R( ) to identify the word root, such as, Note: the meaning of each word root can be found at the Course outline and syllabus.
    The goal of this section is for students to learn 字 根 (word roots). Students are not required to learn those additional words.

  2. To read the meaning of each word out loud from its word root structure.

  3. 字 與 文 化 (word and culture): (you) is a variant ( 俗 字 ) of 人 尼 , on the left of . 請 查 「 康 熙 字 典 」 . is R13 on top of R12. R13 is the word root for Body. A transformed body means not a body of oneself. So, nun with a spiritual body is called . Yet, the original meaning of 人 尼 is a body (person) having a special chemistry (transformation) with me. This is not any person but a person who I am very close to. So, means shy. means mixed together. is a lovely girl. Thus, is not just "you." is a person who I am very fond of and very close to. Anyone who is not is called (he, him) . Chinese words are not just symbols for things or concepts; they often carry the culture spirits.


  1. Chinese language teacher in a public middle- or high-school, or
  2. Professor who is in China - East Asian studies in a university,
they can use this sample textbook in their classrooms as it is. Anyone else who would like to review or to download this sample textbook, please contact the author for permission.

Goto: 笫 二 課 (Lesson Two)

簡 體 版 (Lesson One)

Copyright © 2006 by Tienzen (Jeh-Tween) Gong