Syllabus & Class Material of 12th Grade Chinese Language Class

Northern Westchester Chinese School

Teacher: Prof. Ifay Chang, Ph. D.

Course Title: Analytical and Playful Studies of Chinese Literature - 'Selected Book: Sun Zi Bin Fa'

Selection of Chinese Literature

  • Art of War by Sun-Zi (This will be the selection of Fall 2004)
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms (San Guo Yian Ý), written by Luo Guanzhong
  • Water Margin (Shui Hu Zhuan) details the trials and tribulations of the 108 Outlaw Heroes of the Marsh by Shih Naiyen
  • Journey to the West (Hsi Yu Chi), also known as Monkey King and Monkey, by Wu Cheng'en
  • Dream of Red Chambers, also known as A Dream of Red Mansions or The Chronicles of the Stone ( Shí To Ji), by Cao Xueqin

Objective of the Course: Expect Every Graduate of NWCS to Be A Proud Bilingual Speaker

Teaching and Learning Method

  • Students and Teacher Form a Book/Speaker Club
  • Teacher Gives Weekly Assignment
  • Each Week Covers a Book Chapter
  • Students Perform Analytical and Playful Studies of the Chapter at Home
  • Students Deliver Round Table Discussion of the Study Results in Class
  • Teacher Monitor the Discussion in Bilingual Expressions
  • Discussion Must Be Carried Out in Bilingual Style Ultimately in Chinese and English Alternate Sentences (with the Objective of Achieving Bilingual Listening, Comprehension and Speaking Fluency)


  • Completed NWCS 11th grade with teacher's and parents' recommendation for taking 12th grade study
  • Read at least two books related to the literature book to be studied in the Fall semester by summer (Sun Tzu Art of War for 2004)
  • Submit 3-page book review report for each book read before August 31st to teacher for approval of taking the 12th grade course


  • There is no homework other than reading assignments each week which requires one page study report
  • There are no tests other than a final report about the course study, a 4-page bilingual report which can be understood by either Chinese or English reader (emphasizing student's understanding of the Chinese culture and philosophy and his or her own creative writing)
  • The study reports and final reports are the basis for producing 'a play or plays' with the guidance of the teacher, the play(s) will be entitled, 'Learning Chinese Literature with Fun' or 'Learning Sun Tzu Play By Play'.
  • The essence of the play include: method of learning and teaching, what literature studied, like and dislike of the literature expressed in review paragraphs; humor, creativity and results of literature research will be incorporated in the play (play can be condensed and performed in 15 minutes for NWCS annual party)
  • Students must perform in the play at the annual graduation party on stage to earn a course grade; play is delivered in bilingual sentences so that all audiences (American, Chinese and Chinese American) can understand the humor and meaning of the play (drama or comedy content to be evolved in the course study by students)
  • Grade level: 1. Summer book review qualifies for 12th grade class, 2. Students with good attendance in class and with participation in annual play get B, 3. Students with good play performance in class rehearsals prior to annual stage performance get B+, 4. Students with excellent play performance and/or being key contributor to the play get A, and 4. Significant contributors of play content and significant contributors of play production and/or play performance get A+. 
  • If the results of students' work were excellent, the play script and research materials may be compiled and published as a book with students as co-authors. Each co-author will receive a recommendation letter from the teacher commending his or her merit and performance in this unusual playful course study. 

Graduation Play To Be Performed by The Graduating Class at the Annual Graduation Party - Requisite for Graduation

References for 12th grade students' summer reading (Choose any two books)

Art of War (Translation) (Translation with Original Chinese Text) (Analysis) (Chinese Text with hyperlink to Chinese Dictionary) (Essays on Strategy) (Translation) 

Art of War By Sun Tzu,Thomas F. Cleary,James Clavell,Tzu...$6.20 - $8.96 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu Art of War: Sun-Tzu Ping Fa By Ralph D. Sawyer (Paperback)
Sun Tzu's Art of War: War at Work Applying Sun... By Khoo Kheng-Hor (The same author has written 17 books on Art of War Applying.. on corporate planning, customer service, etc etc, may be too commercial) (Paperback)
Sun Tzu: Manual For War  By T. W. Kuo,Sun Tzu $33.03 (Hardcover)
Sun Tzu's Art of War plus the Ancient Chinese... By Sun Tzu,Sun TzuII $8.76 (Hardcover)

Art of War Box: Book and Card Deck By Sun Tzu,Sun Tzu II $11.89 - $16.96 (Paperback)
Art of War: As Featured on the Sopranos By Sun Tzu,Sun Tzu II $11.34 - $12.60 (Cassette)
Art of War: The Denma Translation with Other By Sun Tzu,Sun Tzu II $9.99 - $14.41 (Hardcover)
Deodand Classics: On the Art of War By Sun Tzu,Sun Tzu II $7.37 - $8.95 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu's the Art of War Plus the Art of Management By Sun Tzu$9.19 - $11.36 (Hardcover)
Sun Tzu's the Art of War Plus the Art of Sales By Sun Tzu $9.19 - $13.46 (Hardcover)
Art of War Reader's Companion By Sun Tzu $4.46 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu's Art of War Plus Its Amazing Secrets:...
Sun Tzu's the Art of Competing
Sun Tzu for Success: How to Use the Art of War to...
Return of Sun Tzu  By Jason Bucklin $15.88 - $40.90 (Paperback)
Art of War: The Cornerstone of Chinese Strategy By Sun Tzu,Sunzi,Sun Tzu II $5.45 - $8.06 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu's Art of War: The Modern Chinese... By Tao Hanzhang,Yuan Shibing $7.89 - $12.95 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu and the Art of Modern Warfare By Mark R. McNeilly $17.33 - $27.50 (Hardcover)
Sun Tzu on the Art of War: The Oldest Military... By Sun Tzu II,Lionel Giles 
Warrior Class: 306 Lessons on Sun Tzu's Art of War By Sun Tzu II $25.49 (Paperback)
Art of War Plus the Art of Starting a Business By Wu Sun Tzu $8.96 (Paperback)
Art of War Plus the Art of Marketing
Art of War Plus the Art of Career Building By Sun Tzu,Gary J. Gagliardi (The same author has written many  Art of War Plus books,  marketing, parenting teen, amazing secrets, etc, etc may be too commercial) $9.19 - $13.46 (Hardcover)
Art of War Plus the Art of Small Business 
Art of War: The Denma Translation  By Sun Tzu,Denma Translation Group,Sunzi ... $8.50 - $11.86 (Paperback)
Art of Peace: Balance Over Conflict in... By Philip Dunn,Phillip Dunn $6.93 - $10.16 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu Strategies for Selling: How to Use the Art of... By Gerald A. Michaelson (The same author has written several Sun Tzu strategies boioks on marketing, managers etc, may be too commercial) $6.67 - $9.31 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu on Investing: 15 Strategies for Dynamic... By Curtis Montgomery $18.58 - $29.95 (Hardcover)
Art of War 3: The Canons of Commerce By Sun-Tzu Wu $10.60 - $32.15 (Paperback)
Doing Business in China: Sun Tzu's the Art of War As... By Laurence J. Brahm $8.99 - $11.36 (Paperback)
Art of War: Sun Tzu: In Plain English By Sun Tzu,Dwayne Tarver,D. E. Tarver $9.11 - $30.69 (Paperback)
Art of War: The Essential Translation of the Classic Book of...
Sun Tzu on the Art of War  By Sun Tzu,Sunzi Sun-Tzu Ping Fa $14.31 - $21.21 (Hardcover)
Sun Tzu's the Art of Competing  By Scott A. Bell $10.54 - $32.50 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu on the Art of War  By Lionel Giles $62.25 (Paperback)
Lost Art of War: Recently Discovered Companion to the...  By Sun Tzu,Sun Tzu II $8.47 - $11.86 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu: The New Translation By Sun Tzu $8.79 - $12.71 (Paperback)
Complete Art of War  By Sun Tzu $20.89 - $29.75 (Hardcover)
Art of Strategy: A New Translation of Sun Tzu's... By Sun Tzu,R. L. Wing $8.95 - $12.71 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu War & Management: War and Management By Wee, Chow Hou,Chow Hou Wee,Chou-Hou Wee $5.70 - $25.50 (Paperback)
Sun-Tzu: The Art of Warfare: The First English... By Roger T. Ames,Sun Tzu $14.59 - $21.25 (Hardcover)
Art of War: An Illustrated Edition By Sun Tzu,Brain P. Cleary $17.39 - $25.46 (Hardcover)
Sun Tzu's Art of War for Traders and Investors By Dean Lundell $10.55 - $16.96 (Hardcover)
Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic... By Mark R. McNeilly $27.00 - $42.50 (Hardcover)
Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War: The Oldest... By Robert L. Cantrell $9.31 - $12.71 (Paperback)
On War  By  Carl Von Clausewitz 
Way of the Leader: Applying the Principles of Sun Tzu...  By Donald A Krause $18.95 - $23.33 (Paperback)
Art of 'Ware: Sun Tzu's Classic Work Reinterpreted  By Bruce F. Webster $16.89 (Paperback)
Art of War: The Definitive Interpretation of Sun... By Sun Tzu,Stephen F. Kaufman,Sun Tzu II $8.07 - $11.01 (Paperback)
Sun Tzu's the Art of War Plus the Warrior Class: 306.. .  $15.27 (Hardcover)
Sun Tzu's Ancient Art of Golf By Gary Parker Chapin $2.95 - $16.37 (Hardcover)
Art of Spiritual Warfare: A Guide to Lasting Inner Peace...  By Grant R. Schnarr,Grant Schnarr $9.35 - $22.68 (Paperback)
Autobiography of Sun Tzu  By Teck Foo Check
Masters of War: Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, & Jomini  By Michael I. Handel

Sun Tzu on the Art of War   (1988)
Sun Tzu on Management: The Art of War in Contemporary...  By Foo Check Teck
Art of War: Complete Text and Commentaries  By Elaine Hansen Cleary,Thomas F. Cleary,Brain P. Cleary $6.95 - $16.96 (Paperback) (Several books)
Sunzi Speaks: The Art of War  By Tsai, Chih Chung $11.66 - $24.10 (Paperback)
Art of War  $24.80 (Hardcover)

Note: These books are listed on many online bookstores. The prices may change and the listings may change. If a particular book's link is broken, copy the title into Google search to find its new link.

Other References   Ifay Chang on Chinese Culture  Ifay Chang on Chess Rules

Class Material

Reading material for students: has published many interviews with authors and scholars about Sun Tzu. These interviews and their introductory are more complementary than analytical, nevertheless, they do contain sometimes the author's motivation and philosophy about writing on Sun Tzu. You may want to read the following interview and go from there: Interview with Chin-Ning Chu , a well known Chinese woman writer and an international speaker. She has written Do Less, Achieve More; Thick Face Black, Heart and her latest book is Woman's Art of War. An exert of a reviewer's comment about it is attached here: "Reviewer: Molly Squires (Northern California) I read Working Woman's Art of War in 2 days, between my schooling and work. I couldn't put it down. It is right on, truthful tactics, to receive personal success for the women of the 21st century, and for the future. A classic to read and pass on to daughter generations. It deals with subjects such as jealousy, sexuality and harassment, men and other subjects and twists them around to a positive point of view in dealing with such areas of the workplace. This book teaches women how to be winners, and understand that they have just as much potential, if not way more in today's society, for becoming a leader of the home or business venture. Chin-Ning Chu, the author, also brings in a positive point of view on anything today's society likes to use as an excuse for not winning. She has found the real essence." 

Cautionary note to students:

Sun-Tzu is such a powerful book on strategy, any reader must be aware of that except the original text (which is difficult to authenticate every word and sometimes equally difficult to interpret every word), any translator, commentator, interpretor and web site devoted to this book may have applied Sun-Tzu's strategy in winning the mind and heart of the reader. There is nothing wrong with that since all good writers try to do that with their books or writings, consciously or subconsciously. Some writers bring in their "background" (philosophical influence and/or life experience) into their writing. For instance, Christianity or Buddhism or military warfare or business experience may have been reflected in many of the writings on the subject of Sun Tzu Bin Fa. Some may say Sun Tzu's strategy is too calculative for dealing with human relations (family, husband and wife or man and woman) and others may say his principles are right on in dealing with business competitors, people negotiation, etc. There is nothing wrong if a reader appreciates and believes in any book (and its author) which applied Sun Tzu's principles to deal with real life matters. However, this author believes that each reader of Sun Tzu must develop his or her own belief by integrating with his or her own "background". Whenever you do have any doubts about any writings about Sun Tzu's principles and strategies, it is best to go to the original text and ponder. Ponder deeply alone and discuss with others till you come to gripe with your own acceptable interpretation and belief. This author believes that Sun Tzu would want you to do that; the style of the original writing definitely invites its reader to do just that. Sun Tzu holds high morality and integrity, with love, kindness, loyalty, patriotism... all reflected in his writing. The younger, one starts to read Sun Tzu, the more benefit, one gets since the young people do not yet have so much "background" (baggage) to interfere with their comprehension of Sun Tzu's writing and formulation of their 'purer' interpretation. The earlier, one brings Sun Tzu into one's "background", the greater benefit (to oneself and to the world!), one receives and gives in one's life. This is the primary reason, this author recommends and teaches this class to high school students.

Of course, business executives read Sun Tzu to win their war of business. Even the mafia heads read Sun Tzu to win their war of the underground. Unfortunately, 'their backgrounds' have preset their morality which sometimes lead to great harm to the society. (layoffs and even killings) In this study for high school students, we hope to bring Sun Tzu's philosophy ("To win the war without fighting and killing the innocent is the best strategy - the highest achievement"; "Understand the weakness of the enemies so to defeat them but not causing total destruction - no gain for the winner"; "Emphasizing strategy to win the war (higher goal on high moral principle) not the tactics to win the battles (killing and looting) - eventually leading to failure") and his wisdom into their background so they can set higher goal and achieve bigger things in their lives.

Lecture One

Ren (Man, Human, People) What does it look like? Two legged being who can talk, walk, run, and dance, superior to four-legged animal.

Da (Big, Great and Grand) What does it look like? What is big, great and grand? A human who can carry a burden represented by the burden pole.

Yi, ideograph representing one, one straight stick or pole. The straight burden pole on one's shoulder can carry two big loads when balanced.      

So Da means Ren who can carry yi, burden pole; really means one who can carry weight and responsibility and that is the meaning of  the word Da - greatness.

Tian (Heaven, Sky, Universe, God) What does it look like? A Stick above Ren (human) and Da (greatness). No matter how great a human is, the human is always under the heaven, under the sky, in the universe and below God. It sets the limit of human's greatness, doesn't it?

Just based on these three simple Chinese words, which any Chinese students must have learned, a great philosophy is inherently represented by their ideographs. An up-standing two legged walking man is superior to animals. A man becomes great if one can carry big burden and responsibility. A man and especially a great man must realize man or human is below heaven, under the sky, in the universe and under God. Man must know its limits and not violating the natural and universal laws of heaven and God.

Sun Tzu Bin Fa Chapter One: Ji

Ji (count, calculate, plan, scheme, predict) What does it look like? It consists of two parts, yan and shi.

Yan (say, speak, words) What does it look like? A mouth (kou) uttering short and long sentences with punctuation. It represents words, language, thoughts and thinking of human and it is expressed by mouth.

Shi (ideograph of ten, the highest numeral digit, the number of fingers human has and can count) What does it look like besides an ideograph of ten? A cross (with the vertical stroke longer) which represents target, aim, goal and direction.

So Ji as a combination of Yan and Shi really means words and thoughts with a purpose, a goal and a direction. So it is somewhat appropriate for translators to translate Ji in Sun Tzu Bin Fa as 'plan' in English both as a verb and a noun. Putting words and thoughts together with a goal will produce impact and results. Sun Tzu, wants us to understand and practice Ji before dealing with any matter about war and battle, military or otherwise.

Read the original and explain in both Chinese and English

Lecture one cover the first chapter Ji

'Plan' is the key word for this study.

Ji (Plan) of this class:

1. What is our goal?

    Sun Tzu Bin Fa is one of the greatest book inscribed 500 BC on bamboo. It is a book of philosophy, a book of wisdom, a book of value and a     book of strategy. The key winning strategy of Sun Tzu is to win without fighting and "won before engaging" the enemy. How to accomplish that? In one word, Ji. Our goal in this class is to learn, as much as we can, the philosophy, wisdom, value, strategy, plans and methods this great book offers us. We want to win (learn) a lot in a 12-week course.

2. What is our strategy?

    Our strategy is to do a plan collectively and perform the study collectively so we can absorb the most in a short 12 weeks time. We will do a lot of reading, thinking and talking bilingually. We will put together a bilingual plan. We will all learn and gain from this plan.

3. What is our plan?

    Our plan is to develop a stage performance and a play production together to demonstrate what we have learned from this great book, a small piece of it perhaps but amply capturing the spirit of its teaching and our learning. The steps to take are:

  •      Read and study at home weekly - pick out ideas

  •      Talk and discuss in class bilingually - enrich substance

  •      Write down thoughts and conclusions for the play - getting consensus

  •      Develop the play collectively (bilingual writing and props) - assign and distribute tasks - two milestone dates, Oct. 16 and Dec. 4th

  •      Practice the play collectively (bilingual verses) - write and memorize own scripts

  •      Put on stage at the Chinese School party - receive applause - On Jan. 15th   

4. What is our expectation?

    We expect to learn and practice the philosophy and strategy of Sun Tzu and retain as much value and methods we developed in our class. We expect this class to be enjoyable and beneficial to our lives - A great Expectation. Sun Tzu tells people to think big and deep!

    Students' grades do depend on their efforts. There will be no homework to submit other than assignments developed collectively - Team Work. There will be no final test other than the impressions students produce in the class activities, especially towards the production of the graduating 'Play'. Students do self assessment and the teacher verifies them.

    The teacher will paraphrase Sun Tzu in saying to the class:

If the students believe the philosophy and strategies taught in this class and act upon them, they will sure win (succeed) and I shall stay with them to see (receive) the triumph; If the students neither believe nor act upon them, they will certainly suffer defeat (fail) and I shall leave them in sorrow & shame (both parties).

Lessons to follow will be free flowing and appended as needed.  

Lecture Two  

Discuss Further of 'Ji' of This Class

The Play - The Theme - The Practical Goal - The Measurable Achievement

Can we raise fund for NWCS? A practical Goal? What is the Strategy? What is the Plan?

Strategy: Take advantage of the main selling season, jolly season and leisurely season when people are buying and giving. When people are contributing and donating and people want to do good things such as helping schools.

Plan: A few choices are suggested for thinking. One, promote sell at the school functions such as 'Happy Holidays' at Primrose. The second, promote and sell at NWCS annual meeting. The third, promote and sell at the food concession stand.

What to sell? Toys? Games? Gifts? Books? How about a book of Sun Zi?

Complete Chapter One 'Ji'

Read the original and explain the text in both Chinese and English. The students should have comprehended the entire chapter. Students to begin lead the discussion from chapter one onward.

 The assignment: Read the first chapter our loud at least five times and look up explanations in Chinese and English if any part is in doubt. Be ready to be called on to read a paragraph and explain and lead a discussion.

Video Session on Sun Zi Bi Fa (A story of Sun Bin who is a descendent of Sun Zi, a strategist who practiced Sun Zi Bin Fa and succeeded in winning many wars and battles)

First Session Brief History of Sun Zi Bin Fa and 'Dern Gau Tho Tea' (Take away the ladder after one is up on the cliff}

Students will review and discuss the video and try to relate to Sun Zi Bin Fa if ready today or at least in future lectures.

The Assignment: Read Chapter Two 'Zur Zhan' and Chapter Three 'Mou Goun' and be ready to lead discussion in the next lecture hour.

Lecture Three

The essence of chapter two

1. Cost Analysis of Battle and War: War is costly, what, where and how is it expensive

2. First to know the impact and disadvantages of engagement in war then one may understand whether there is any advantage in waging a war

3. Resources and supplies are key for success - must be aware of and utilize enemy's resources and supplies.

4. Fast and short is always preferred than long and slow engagement in war

Class discussion and implication in other affairs:

The essence of chapter three

1. Priority on Principles: Conquer but not destroy. Win the war without fighting is far superior than win all the battles

2. Priority on Strategy: Win by Strategy, Diplomacy, Military Might, then Battles which must be the last resort.

3. Role of military leader

4. Five means and knowledge leading to victory

5. Know yourself and know your enemy well - Victory assured. Know yourself but not sure about your enemy - 50:50 chance of winning. Not knowing yourself and not knowing your enemy - 100% doom to failure.

Class discussion and implication in other affairs:

Video of Sun Bin's Battles

Continue discussion and preparing for class play:

Review results of last session:

1. Develop supplement to program (Content brochure) of annual graduation party. Utilize graduation speech (time) for enriching the class play

2. Theme of class play: Articulate what NWCS is and its needs: Teachers, students and funds.

3. Goal: Fund raising for NWCS and leave legacy of class 2004-5.

4. Plan: Develop class play program in high quality content and print material with valuable and useful information so that recipients will treasure, hence possible for fund raising at the annual party and afterwards. October 16 to have main elements of plan developed. Tasks identified and assigned. Schedule laid out with milestones marked.

Progress and New Discussions:

Lecture Supplement

What is Zur Yeo Min? Character translation: Seat Right (Right Side) Carved Phrase. Students are encouraged to find their own favorite Zur Yeo Min from Sun Tzu's Book.

Students discuss their selections so far: rationale, expectation and motivation factor.

The Assignment: Read chapter 4 Victory - Definition and How to and chapter 5  Art of War - Variety and prepare to lead the discussion in next class.