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intermediateSituation: You can understand and produce language about personal or familiar topics and you can communicate with natives about most topics on a basic level, albeit haltingly. You can handle language which is directed to you and adjusted to your level. This is roughly equal to CEFR B1.

Goal: Be able to understand general, non-specialist content produced by native speakers for native speakers. Be able to communicate with native speakers about similar topics, albeit not necessarily completely correctly.

Here are some typical questions belonging to the intermediate level:

  • I feel that I can communicate in Chinese, how do I keep improving?
  • How do I deepen my knowledge and broaden my vocabulary?
  • How do I take the step from intermediate to advanced?

It’s relatively easy to write suggestions for beginners, simply because their situations tend to be similar. Reaching the intermediates level, however, students have already trod wildly different paths and general recommendations become very hard to produce. Thus, if you feel that you’re having problems with a specific area, I suggest checking the pages about listening, speaking, reading and writing.

You can also browse articles relevant for intermediate learners (scroll down to see all of them in a text-only list):


All articles
Chinese is fascinating and exciting, not weird and stupid
Learning Chinese is easier than you think
The importance of knowing many words
Mental models and making mistakes
Learning Chinese through social media
The art of being corrected
Creating a powerful toolkit: Character components
The virtues of language exchanges
Spaced repetition software and why you should use it
Creating a powerful toolkit: Characters and words
Learning Chinese words really fast
Listening ability, a matter of practice?
Pros and cons with travelling to learn a language
Take responsibility for your own learning now
Anki, the best of spaced repetition software
A smart method to discover problems with tones
Using search engines to study Chinese
Why you should use more than one textbook
Diversified learning is smart learning
Goals and motivation, part 1 – Introduction
Goals and motivation, part 2 – Long-term goals
Goals and motivation, part 3 – Short-term goals
Goals and motivation, part 4 – Micro goals
You won’t learn Chinese simply by living abroad
Spaced repetition isn’t rote learning
Review: Chinese Synonyms Usage Dictionary
Make sure listening isn’t a practical problem
Escaping the convenience trap
Memorising dictionaries to boost reading ability
Time quality: Studying the right thing at the right time
Dealing with tricky vocabulary: Killing leeches
Learn Chinese by listening to the listener
Vocabulary in your pocket
Memory aids and mnemonics to enhance learning
Four different kinds of mistakes: Problem analysis
Growing up in Chinese
How to find more time to practise listening
Learning the third tone in Chinese
Don’t be a tourist
Achieving the impossible by being inspired
Holistic language learning: Integrating knowledge
The kamikaze approach to learning Chinese
Benchmarking progress to stay motivated
Enjoying the journey while focusing on the destination
The Chinese-Chinese dictionary survival guide
Timeboxing Chinese
About opening doors and the paths beyond
Triggering quantum leaps in listening ability
Reading manga for more than just pleasure
Playing word games to practise fluency
Tones are more important than you think
Mapping the terra incognita of vocabulary
Reading speed: Learning how to read ten lines at a glance
If you want to master Chinese, make long-term investments
Can you become fluent in Chinese in three months?
Learn by exaggerating: Slow, then fast; big, then small
Learning efficiently vs. learning quickly
Learning simplified and traditional Chinese
Advancing in spite of praise
When perfectionism becomes an obstacle to progress
Understanding regionally accented Mandarin
Use the benefits of teaching to boost your own learning
The 10,000 hour rule – Blood, sweat and tears
The importance of counting what counts
Defining Language Hacking: Lessons Learned From Hacking Chinese
Answer buttons and how to use SRS
Language question triage – General guidelines
Don’t try to improve everything at once, limit your focus
Listening strategies: An introduction
Listening strategies: Problem analysis
Listening strategies: Background listening
Practising sports to learn Chinese and make friends
Listening strategies: Passive listening
Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2: Playing computer games in Chinese
Using Lang-8 to improve your Chinese
Listening strategies: Active listening
Language is communication, not only an abstract subject to study
Listening strategies: Improving listening speed
Improving writing ability: Common problems and how to tackle them
Listening strategies: Deliberate practice and i+2
Chinese Language Learner Interview Series – Olle Linge
Recording yourself to improve speaking ability
Approaches to reading in Chinese
A language learner’s guide to reading comics in Chinese
31 Twitter feeds to help you learn Chinese
Listening strategies: Diversify your listening practice
Why learning Chinese through music is underrated
Study according to your current productivity level
The time barrel: Or why you have more time than you think
Extending mnemonics: Tones and pronunciation
Learning Chinese with StarCraft 2
12 songs to learn Chinese and expand your horizons
The importance of tones is inversely proportional to the predictability of what you say
Don’t just read about learning methods, actually try them as well
A guide to Pinyin traps and pitfalls
Vocalise more to learn more Chinese
Learning styles: Use with caution!
Chat your way to better Chinese
Learning Chinese in the shower with me
Is it necessary to learn to write Chinese characters by hand?
13 more songs to learn Chinese and expand your horizons
RTI, my favourite radio station
Have fun learning Chinese or else…
Measurable progress is a double-edged sword
Why you really should use a Chinese notebook
You can’t learn Chinese characters by rote
Towards a more sensible way of learning to write Chinese
Remembering is a skill you can learn
Sensible character learning: Progress, reminders and reflections
How to create mnemonics for general or abstract character components
Don’t use mnemonics for everything
Translating to improve your Chinese
The Cthulhu bubble and studying Chinese
Horizontal vocabulary learning
21 essential dictionaries and corpora for learning Chinese
14 extra songs to learn Chinese and expand your horizons
You shouldn’t walk the road to Chinese fluency alone
Is your flashcard deck too big for your own good?
The question you have to ask about your Chinese teacher or course
Learning the right chengyu the right way
Immersion at home or: Why you don’t have to go abroad to learn Chinese
You might be too lazy to learn Chinese, but you’re not too old
Adding tone marks (w/o Pinyin) above characters to practise tones
Using Audacity to learn Chinese (speaking and listening)
Learning how to learn Chinese through self-experimentation
If you think spaced repetition software is a panacea you are wrong
What research can and cannot tell us about learning Chinese
Boosting your character learning with Skritter
Dealing with near-synonyms in Chinese as an independent learner
Role-playing as a way to expand your Chinese
The get-back-up-to-speed summer challenge
Studying Chinese when your grades matter
5 insights from the first year of a master’s program in Taiwan
Do you really know how to count in Chinese?
Why you need goals to learn Chinese efficiently
Standard pronunciation in Chinese and why you want it
Why manually adding and editing flashcards is good for you
Phonetic components, part 1: The key to 80% of all Chinese characters
Phonetic components, part 2: Hacking Chinese characters
Reading aloud in Chinese is really hard
5 websites to help answer your questions about Chinese
What’s your next step to master Chinese?
About fossilisation and improving your Chinese pronunciation
Your slumps affect your language learning more than your flows
Preparing for rainy days and dealing with slumps
Drills and exercises aren’t only for beginners
How to improve your Chinese writing ability through focused reading
Asking the experts: How to bridge the gap to real Chinese
Improving your spoken and written Chinese by focusing on the process
Learning to read aloud in Chinese
Review: The Geography of Thought: How East Asians and Westerners Think Differently… And Why
Role-playing to learn more Chinese and avoid frustration
Chinese immersion with Carl Gene Fordham
Chinese reading challenge: Read more or die
25 books I read in Chinese last year
Wuxia, a key to Chinese language and culture
A language learner’s guide to wuxia novels
Easing yourself into reading novels in Chinese
Focusing on tone pairs to improve your Mandarin pronunciation
Habit hacking for language learners
Two reasons why pronunciation matters more than you think
Learning how to fish: Or, why it’s essential to know how to learn
Flashcard overflow: About card models and review directions
Asking the experts: How to learn Chinese grammar
Sensible Chinese character learning revisited
Sensible Chinese character learning challenge 2014
Why good feedback matters and how to get it
Sensible character learning challenge 2014: Milestone #1
The Grand Listening Cycle: Improve your Chinese listening ability
Learn to read Chinese… with ease?
Handwriting Chinese characters: The minimum requirements
Sensible character learning challenge 2014: Milestone #2
How to Approach Chinese Grammar
The three roads to mastering Chinese
How to find out how good your Chinese pronunciation really is
How and why to use television to learn Chinese
Sensible character learning challenge 2014: Milestone #3
A learner’s guide to TV shows in Chinese, part 1
Launching Hacking Chinese Resources
How to reach a decent level of Chinese in 100 days
Sensible character learning challenge 2014: The Big Finish
A learner’s guide to TV shows in Chinese, part 2
Language learning with a Chinese girlfriend or boyfriend
Improve your pronunciation with the Hacking Chinese pronunciation check
Focusing on radicals, character components and building blocks
Is speaking more important than listening when learning Chinese?
How long have you studied Chinese?
7 ways of learning to write Chinese characters
Study more Chinese: Time boxing vs. micro goals
About cheating, spaced repetition and learning Chinese
How long have you studied Chinese? 290 years or 58 992 hours!
250+ resources for learning Chinese
Change your attitude to enjoy life and learn more Chinese
Articles by me published elsewhere: August round-up
Focusing on communication to learn Chinese
Learning to write Chinese characters through communication
Launching Hacking Chinese Challenges
The 10 best free listening resource collections for learning Chinese
Why you should think of characters in terms of functional components
Learning how to ask for and receive directions in Chinese
The 10 best free reading resource collections for learning Chinese
How to find the time and motivation to read more Chinese
Hacking Chinese Pronunciation course now open for registration
Is Chinese difficult to learn?
How translation can help you learn Chinese
5 tips to help you improve your Chinese writing ability
How knowing your best performance in Chinese can help you improve
My best advice on learning Chinese characters
Focus on initials and finals, not Pinyin spelling
How to find a suitable Chinese name
24 great resources for improving your Mandarin pronunciation
How learning some basic theory can improve your pronunciation
How focusing on intent can help you learn Chinese characters
Three steps to more and better Chinese listening practice
Adjust your listening practice to your current state of mind
A minimum-effort approach to writing Chinese characters by hand
The new paperless revolution in Chinese reading
Using Chinese textbooks to improve reading ability
Will a Chinese-only rule improve your learning?
Learning Chinese by playing Mahjong 麻將 (májiàng)
Hone your Chinese writing ability by writing summaries
The 9 best Twitter feeds for learning Chinese
Review: Mandarin Companion graded readers (Level 1)


2 Responses to Intermediate

  1. gladys says:

    Hi sir,

    I am sooo lucky to stumble upon your website whilst looking up for articles on exceptions in Chinese tones as I am at the moment trying my best, studying until wee hours to learning to speak Chinese. You see I am a performer here in a certain hotel here in Qingdao and my job requires me to communicate with people. I do sing in Chinese and in some ways, modesty aside, I believe I’m doing quite well on that field. People here compliment me on my clear pronunciation but sadly only when I sing. And I am quite not sure if its a good thing that it somehow make people think that I speak Chinese too. Unfortunately I don’t, though I can somehow muster a few essential phrases.

    I just want to tell you how helpful your website is for me and wish I can afford to hire you as a teacher. Maybe in the future…keeping my fingers crossed here. For now, reading your articles do help a lot and this is the only way I know (this letter) to show you my support. Thank you very much sir. You are definitely one devoted person as you encourage, help and support people like me who wishes to learn.

    Again, I thank you and looking forward to more articles from you.

    Best regards,
    Gladys Viterbo-Lacre