Online units that focus on conversational features of spoken Chinese. Units consist of: audio files, 4 types of transcripts, vocabulary lists and annotations, concordances, student workbook with exercises and activities, pedagogical suggestions for the teacher.


The CALPER Chinese project collected authentic discourse data from native speakers of Mandarin Chinese and, on the basis of this collection, explored the grammar of spoken Chinese to create teaching materials for classroom use and self study. So far we have a collection of over 60 hours of conversational interaction with a wide range of topics in a variety of communicative settings.

Authentic materials differ from constructed texts in many ways, with both advantages and disadvantages. The most obvious advantage is that it is used by native speakers in naturalistic situations. Research has shown that exposure to meaningful input plays a critical role in learner language improvement. Authentic speech exposes the learner to input that is not readily available in constructed texts or imagined situation and with rich varieties of expressions and communicative strategies that can only be observed in connected text.


Working with Spoken Chinese consists of 10 units. Each one is based on some distinctive conversation feature (or a set of such) of Mandarin Chinese that are captured in an audio recording. Some of these features include
  • story telling and presenting events,
  • expressing agreement and disagreement,
  • introducing and negotiating topics,
  • reacting to and collaborating with the main speaker.

At the same time, topic themes (travel, TV shows, shopping, sports, etc.) and speech events (chat, talking in action, narration, etc.) associated with the talk are also identified, because different topics and different speech events can manifest different features of conversation.

This cross-listing allows instructors to choose a particular unit by topic themes, speech events, or conversation features, or some combination of these, depending on the particular curricular needs of their students.

Conversation features and speech events are briefly described at the beginning of each unit in the "Notable Conversation Features" section, while grammatical features and other important aspects of the talk are highlighted in the Line-by-Line Commentary to each unit and further focused on in the "After-Listening Activities" in the Student's Workbook.

Each unit is self-contained and illustrates a particular feature or a set of features of spoken Mandarin Chinese. As more units are explored the learner will become systematically exposed to some of the most important elements of conversational Mandarin.