Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles published in December 2012

  1. You can’t learn Chinese characters by rote

    My conclusion after years of learning characters is that rote learning is useless. Spaced repetition software is good, but it’s still not enough. If adult foreigners are going to learn to write Chinese by hand, we really need another method. We need mnemonics, we need active processing, we need to quit rote learning and stop using SRS mechanically.

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  2. Why you really should use a Chinese notebook

    Keeping a notebook with you at all times is essential, not only because it makes sure you don’t forget important things you want to learn, look up, follow up or remember for other reasons, but also because it help you keep your mind clear and enables you to focus on what’s important and thus learn more Chinese.

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  3. Measurable progress is a double-edged sword

    Spaced repetition software offers a great way of measuring progress, every step forward is recorded and clearly visible. However, this is also a trap, because even though SRS is useful, it’s just a tool, not a comprehensive strategy. Measurable progress is a great help, but only if you use it correctly.

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  4. Have fun learning Chinese or else…

    Having fun while learning, or at least making the best of every situation, is essential. Learning a language requires a lot of time and if we don’t enjoy the process, we aren’t likely to invest the time we need to master a language.

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