Chinese (Mandarin)/Planning

Welcome to the main Planning page for the Chinese Wikibook. Unless your comment only pertains to a particular lesson, discuss your ideas here so that the overall planning discussion is not spread across many lesson pages. Initial planning and continued coordination of effort is extremely important to help reduce the need for reworking later. New issues are entered here, with the most recent at the bottom of the page. Please review the Table of Contents to see if your issue has already been raised; also check the archives (see below) in case it was discussed some time ago.

Please observe the following guidelines:

  1. Place your question at the bottom of the list;
  2. Title the question (by placing the title between equals signs like this: == title ==);
  3. Sign your name and date (by adding four tildes: ~~~~).
Wikimedia Commons logo Post a new comment

Chinese Wikibook Purpose and Audience


This book is intended to be a complete learning resource center for students of Mandarin Chinese. Dialects, such as Cantonese, will be covered by their own Wikibooks and be linked to in the See Also section of the Table of Contents (TOC). It should teach listening comprehension and speaking as well as reading and writing using whatever technologies are most appropriate (includes audio for text and animations for stroke orders).

The audience is the serious studier of Chinese, either at the high school or college level. Casual learners looking for a few choice phrases or unwilling to spend the time learning characters can be served adequately by the Chinese Phrasebook on Wikivoyage. Younger audiences can have age-appropriate material created for them in WikiJunior. Intermediate- or Advanced-Level modules may be added, but because of the cumulative nature of a language text (explained below), it would probably be best to focus efforts on the Introductory Level first and make continuations of the series later.

The Need for Planning


Language Wikibooks faces some unique challenges from a planning perspective. It's harder to produce a quality, integrated work in language instruction than in other subjects, like Biology or Physics. Those you can break into discrete units and still read about it—topics within the subject can be rearranged or meaningfully read even in isolation from the rest of the text.

Not so with an elementary language text. All the grammar and vocabulary that you learn is cumulative, so everything can only stack one way. Flipping ahead (or falling behind) more than a few chapters and you're lost. Order matters, so we use the a sequential naming scheme (Lesson 1, Lesson 2,...), not a topic-based one (Asking Questions, Giving Directions,...).

To avoid late-stage reorganizations that would necessarily be painful with lots of work going to waste, we should agree on a 'Lesson Roadmap' beforehand and then flesh it out. I think a Wiki can really work for this, but that the project still needs a common format and approach. A standard outline for lessons would help a lot with that, so, may I suggest that the lessons of this text each include the components outlined below.

Lesson Roadmap

  1. Lesson 1: Hello! (你好!)  - Basic Sentences and Questions
    • Simple Sentences
      • SVO sentence structure
        • The equational verb shi [是] and its negation with bu [不]
        • Verb 叫
    • Intro to Questions
      • Ma [吗] and ne [呢] particles
      • Question words (for now, only shei [谁] and na/nei [哪])
  2. Lesson 2: Are you busy today? (今天你忙不忙?)   - Measure Words, Possession and Affirmative-Negative Questions
    • Measure Words (the most commonly used, like 个、本、张)
    • The possessive verb you [有] and its negation with mei [没]
    • More Questions! Affirmative-Negative
      • 是不是 Questions
      • 有没有 Questions
  3. Unit 3: 今天星期三 - Numbers, Days, Aux. Verbs, de [的]
    • Numbers (to 100)
    • year, month, day, week etc.
    • Auxiliary Verbs, the de [的] particle
  4. Lesson TBA: Unordered List of Grammar Explanations - Even w/o example sentences grammar can be explained nonetheless
    • Comparisons Using bǐ [比]
    • The le [了] particle
      • indicating a completed action
      • indicating a past event
      • expressing change of state or situation
      • adding emphasis
    • Time
      • when - time of day, hour and minutes, morning/night
      • how long - duration of time
    • Directions/Placement Words (NESW, L/R, li3, li2, zai4, bian1)
    • Pronunciation of yi1 (b/c of tone changes)
    • Complement of degree de
    • ordinal numbers di
    • Complement of direction qu/lai
    • Compliment of result
    • ba
      • the suggestion particle
      • as preposition
    • guo denoting experience of something
    • (some) members of family
    • reduplication
    • emphasis using
    • How to use a Radical Index (for C-E Glossary)
    • Basic rules for writing Chinese characters

Subjects Areas to Cover



Getting around (a city)

  • Where is the post office?
  • How far is it to the school?
  • Public transport
  • Conversation in a taxi

Chapter Three: Buying Things

  • How much is that shirt?
  • Haggling


  • Eating Out
  • At the supermarket
  • The grocer
  • A meal at home
  • Traditional Chinese cooking


  • What do you play?
  • Talking about a match
  • Skiing
  • Mountaineering
  • Yachting
  • Surfing

Your House

  • Description of house
  • Traditional Chinese furniture
  • Living in a community

Immediate family and relatives


  • This is my school
  • Afterschool activities
  • School subjects

Going to the Zoo / Wo men qu dong wu yuan

Decided Conventions

  1. The Title Page leads to the main TOC, not the Cover Page. The Cover Page can be linked from the TOC and used in Print versions.
  2. Hanyu Pinyin is used as the only Romanization format, though equivalency charts to other systems provided [1]. Tone marks are used instead of tone numbers.
  3. Traditional or Simplified characters appear only in the Lesson Text and in parentheses in the Vocabulary sections—not in titles, example sentences, or exercises.
  4. Traditional pages are linked as parallel subpages of every Simplified page. On every Traditional page, a parentdirectory link links back to the Simplified version, always providing a toggle button between versions.

Unresolved Issues