Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles published in October 2010

  1. Spaced repetition software and why you should use it

    Spaced repetition means that you review words you want to learn in certain intervals to maximise learning efficiency. Since this involves keeping track of much data, a computer program is needed to handle it properly. Spaced repetition software is very powerful and can be used for many things, but learning vocabulary and characters are perhaps the most important applications.

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  2. Creating a powerful toolkit: Individual characters

    Learning to read and write Chinese requires intimate knowledge not only of words, but also of individual characters. Without this knowledge, the building blocks of each word become meaningless, and, as we all know, learning something meaningful is always easier. Knowing individual characters is also essential if we want to be able to guess the meaning of new words, learn new words quickly or use mnemonics!

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  3. The virtues of language exchanges

    A language exchange is simply a relationship between two people who want to learn each other’s language. It is useful because it allows you to focus fully on language without having to worry that your ordinary friends think it’s taxing to be with you because you always ask so many questions.

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  4. Creating a powerful toolkit: Character components

    If you plan to learn to read or write Chinese, you will need to learn parts of characters (components) and parts of words (characters). There are an untold number of combinations of these, and if you only study these it will be impossible. This would be a little bit like learning maths by studying thousands of examples, but never actually looking at the underlying equations.

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