In a collaboration between the London Mandarin Learners and the Chinese Viewfinders' Club, we are proposing to hold a monthly meetup of short story/article reading followed with open discussion - one based on a Chinese text, one based on an English text. Something of between 10-20 pages in length in each case. At each meetup however, participants can talk in English or Chinese, whichever they prefer. The idea being that non-native Chinese can be helped in learning Chinese with the help of native speakers, and that native Chinese can improve their English by discussing an English text.
The first (Chinese Reading) meeting will take place on 18th March and the second (English Reading) will take place on the 2nd April. We will meet at The Kings Arms, 65 Newcomen Street, London, Greater London SE1 1Y. The meetups are really intended for intermediate to advanced learners - though we will give long advance notice of the material to be covered such that if you feel you can handle it, please come along.
Given the challenging nature of reading in Chinese, I am proposing to start by using the book Graded Chinese Reader 1 for the Chinese meeting. That has a series of 6 short stories by famous contemporary Chinese writers, edited to have a more restricted character set (the book also has a CD with the stories read out slowly, as well as full pinyin for the text). I have already read the first 4 and they are great. This book can be bought at: http://tinyurl.com/adgctsf (Amazon) and also available at Foyles in Charing Cross Road. A word document of the first story (without Pinyin) can be found here: http://venus.unive.it/dsao/webpages/docs/corsi/materiali_shi/gcr1_1.doc. This is a short story about neighbours in a small Chinese town, written by Su Tong (苏童) who also wrote Raise The Red Lantern (or at least the novel which became the film).
Winnie (from the Chinese Viewfinders Club) will soon specify the English texts to be covered and post the next meetup.
If you can make it, please try to come to both and invite your friends who are learning the language too - in one language you will be mainly learning, and in the other, mainly helping others learn.