"Xué. It’s never too late to learn. Il n’est jamais trop tard pour apprendre."

Language studies are typically linear progressions, as most workbooks feature only two language arrangements. For example, English to French and Chinese to English workbooks are plentiful, but also self-limiting. Zhang has tackled this problem admirably with his trilingual workbook, which is intended for intermediate students. Zhang’s compilation is a treasure trove for language lovers who are interested in simultaneously expanding their vocabularies and learning how to place words in their appropriate context.

Each entry begins with the simplified Chinese characters, followed by the traditional characters. Learners of Chinese should note the regional differences in the usage of simplified and traditional characters before deciding which set to study. Following both character sets, language learners will see the pinyin letters, followed by several sentences in English, French, and Chinese. Herein lies the main strength of Zhang’s workbook. By studying multiple examples of the proper context, students can accelerate the progression of their conversational skills. For instance, the Chinese characters for “it’s nothing” or “it’s not important” are followed by “She gets angry about nothing,” “I have nothing to do,” and “That’s nothing to what Mum will say.” Of course, each of those sentences is also available in the French and Chinese versions.

Zhang’s workbook follows the reference protocols established by the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CERF). This allows learners access to straightforward, easily understood levels of study. It also supports self-taught students. Like other language materials, students will find that they get the most benefit from the workbook when they make the effort to practice writing the letters and/or characters and speak the sentences out loud.

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