Studying Chinese (7) – Get ready for 2017, year of the rooster


As Chinese New Year Festival is bound to start, let’s review new tools that can help you study and progress. As I explained in a previous post, it’s important to set you goals, but it’s also essential to have the right tools. I already talked about the books I use to read in chinese, yet you cannot absolve yourself from a complete method book. I think I found a great one during my last trip in Paris : it’s the last method book from parisian National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations, shown just above and below :

Asiathèque 2

This is a tremendous book, it covers all the fields required when you study a language : from grammar to vocabulary, written to oral understanding, extensive explanations on specific expressions, you get everything you need to progress in your pathway, including MP3 material. I experimented a whole lot of methods to study chinese, but this one is definitely the most comprehensive for french learners. And it’s a gift from Marylène, whose blog is a must when you take an interest in french culture and the arts, so thanks again, Marylène, it is of a great help in my learning !


  • C H E N G Y U / 成语

When you get deeper in your knowledge of a language, you often got to come accross some specific aspects, which are familiar to the locals, but not that easy for the basic learners. One of these peculiarities for mandarin chinese is chengyu(s). A chengyu is an idiomatic expression, quite like a proverb, that consists in four characters. You don’t have to know chengyu(s) to understand basic chinese, but it’s quite inevitable that you will encounter some by watching TV series, for instance. I had the chance to buy a second-hand chengyu dictionary during the same trip in Paris :

Chengyu 1


It’s all in chinese, so I don’t understand a lot of the contents at the moment but it sure will be of a great help in the future years :

Chengyu 2 

  • C L A S S I F I E R S / 量词

Second specific point, this is a notion that we aren’t used to in european languages. When you want to talk about several “tree”, you just say … “trees” (!). There might be some specific words like “a pair of trousers”, or “a glass of beer”, but generally speaking, when you have to measure words, you don’t need classifiers.

It’s quite different in mandarin chinese. Although you can employ the generic classifier ge / 个 if you don’t know the classifier for the noun you want to qualify, it will be far better to employ the right classifier, and this book is a good directory to find your way through classifiers :

liangci 1 Phrases, examples, the main classifiers are submitted in this precious little book, once again I bought it second-hand, it’s the primary french edition :

liangci 2


Last but not least, grammar, you cannot avoid grammar. It’s painful sometimes to dive into its mazes, but so useful when it comes to speak or write correct chinese. I borrowed this one from the local Confucius Institute‘s library, and it is a great and clear book :



Well, that’s all for today, so, like chinese people say : 加油 !