The main purpose of learning a language is the natural and fluent application of the language in daily life. So is the purpose of over-seas youths of Chinese descent in studying the Chinese language. Based on its consistent policy and concept of serving overseas Chinese, the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC) has published several series of Chinese teaching materials to meet the needs of overseas Chinese in different regions. The present reader, Speak Mandarin in Five Hundred Words, follows the mass line. It may be used by people of different age groups from different walks of life. To pluralize the teaching materials, the OCAC has published Chinese-English, Chinese-Thai, Chinese-Portuguese, Chinese-Spanish, Chinese-French, and Chinese-Indonesian editions, hoping to benefit more youths of Chinese descent.

The main portion-Chinese portion-of this reader, is compiled by Professor Liu Chi-hua of National Chengchi University, an expert on teaching the Chinese language. With her years of experience, Professor Liu has made this reader more comprehensive and more lively. The OCAC wishes to extend to her its heartfelt thanks.

This reader has 30 lessons and each lesson has four units: "Text", "Words and Phrases", "Review", and "Extended Practice". The Text Unit, is practice-oriented, and its materials are drawn from daily life. The materials range from self-introduction to family, school, communication, and daily dialogues. The key and frequently used words and phrases are fully elaborated in the Word and Phrase Units. This unit not only helps the students understand the stroke order of the listed words but also the phrases derived from these words as well. In the Review Unit, there are no phonetic symbols so as to enable the students to identify the words without the help of phonetic symbols, and get a better under-standing of the texts. Finally, in the Application Unit, it is hoped that the students can lively apply the glossary they have learned and use the Chinese language naturally and fluently in their daily lives.

The contents of this reader are carefully compiled. To maximize its effect, the OCAC hopes that the teachers who choose to use this reader can arrange a natural and lively learning environment for the students to learn Chinese in a pleasant atmosphere. The OCAC hopes that through such an arrangement the students can lay a good foundation of Chinese dialogues in preparation for further studies of the Chinese language.

The OCAC wishes to take this opportunity to invite comments and suggestions on this reader, in the hope of bringing it to a higher horizon.

Minister of Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission