On Nov. 2, an English textbook dating back to China’s Qing Dynasty was displayed by a Chinese citizen from Chengdu, Sichuan province. The book showed how the Chinese people learned English more than a century ago.

The textbook is labeled as being from the “10th year of Emperor Xian Feng’s reign”(1851-1861). Experts at the West Document Repair Center in Sichuan pronounced the book authentic after examining its print, typeface and content. However, they are not sure which year it was published.

As the pictures show, each page of the book is divided into 12 grids, and each grid contains three sentences: a Chinese sentence on top, an English sentence in the middle and a pinyin transliteration at the bottom. Modern historians confirm that it was common during that period for Chinese people to learn English through pinyin. However, pinyin-guided English lessons mostly appear in non-standard textbooks, according to Professor LeiHanqing, a linguist at Sichuan University.

(This article is published on People’s Daily Online)

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