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Step by Step

Early Chinese Readers
by BYU Chinese Flagship Center

What is Step by Step?

Transport your students into a world of vivid color, imagination, and fun as they learn Chinese with Step by Step! Best in Category at the 2013 New England Book Show, Step by Step allows parents and teachers to teach language learning through content-based instruction in science, math, and social studies in the K–2 classroom. Pedagogical alignment with ACTFL’s 5 C’s and the Common Core State Standards places Step by Step in a unique position to satisfy the curriculum goals of every elementary school Chinese program: from intensive immersion to casual exploration. Step by Step will ignite students’ passion to learn through its variety of artistic styles and subject matter, serving as an indispensible component for any first year Chinese course either as a core series or as supporting material.

 How does Step by Step work?

The key to Step by Step’s unique organization lies in its spiraled vocabulary and theme-based approach. This multi-level series starts with three Foundation stories in Level A, which introduce 34 essential vocabulary terms. Once students have mastered the vocabulary in the Foundation stories, teachers can introduce any of the 10 cross-curricular themes—family, hygiene, nutrition, activity, plants, school, water, community, time, and math— to reinforce content learned in other subject areas and provide familiar and engaging language learning contexts. There are three readers in each theme, and each reader introduces approximately 8–12 new high frequency vocabulary terms while systematically recycling previously learned vocabulary. The non-linear relationship among themes allows you to design your language curriculum to match the curriculum in other subject areas and to introduce as many or as few themes as suits your program.

How does Step by Step support a home-school connection?

Most American parents do not speak Chinese—this challenges programs and teachers to find new ways to help parents and guardians support their young learners during the study of Chinese. Step by Step provides a variety of resources to meet this challenge, including full English translations, new word lists with pīnyīn, as well as a robust companion website complete with mp3 audio, flashcards, word lists, and more. Contact your representative for samples.

Are there any online resources available?

Flashcards, writing practice, progression charts, and other online resources are available at the Step by Step companion website.


• Story format and eye-catching illustrations spark students’ curiosity
• Content-based themes align with Common Core State Standards
• Common oral structure familiarizes students with natural Chinese speech
• Spiraled, independent vocabulary provides flexible pacing options to suit any program
• Available in either simplified or traditional characters
• Free companion website available at the Step by Step companion website


What a colorful, easy way to learn a language! This provides many small packets making it fun to progress from topic to topic. The audio downloads that come with it make the study more engaging.

— Judges' Comments, New England Book Show

... kids must remember the characters in order to read the booklets. They enjoy the challenge of it and are really excited about these books. I think this series is a great place to start to learn Chinese.

About the Author(s)

The Chinese Flagship Program at Brigham Young University (BYU) was established in 2002 by a grant from the National Security Education Program (NSEP) to develop high level proficiency in the Chinese Language.