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Learning outside class

Learning outside class comes with both advantages and disadvantages compared to formal education. On the positive side, we can study according to our own goals and choose study methods that suit our own style. It’s more likely that we enjoy what we’re doing and if we’re disciplined enough, learning Chinese in this way is both efficient and enjoyable indeed.

However, there are also several disadvantages with learning Chinese outside class, although they can of course be overcome:

  1. Working with no external requirements makes most people lazy
  2. Lacking a format teacher, we need to find alternative ways of solving problems

The first problem is universal and relevant for every single person I have met (including myself). The most important thing is to find ways of studying Chinese that you truly enjoy, only than can you hope to spend the time necessary to master the language. There are lots of tips and tricks for how to make it easier to study more, though, even though it might not be fun all the time. Establishing routines and finding efficient studying methods is an individual endeavour, but there are several things that can help you.

The second problem is more straightforward: you need to find ways of dealing with problems you encounter. These may be questions about Chinese, but it might also be feedback on your own progress. Most of these questions can be solved online or by taking the help of native speakers (tutors, language exchange, friends). This problem is not hard to solve if you know exactly what resources to use, but it might seem daunting for beginners.

Here are all the articles about learning outside class (scroll down to see all of them in a text-only list):


All articles
If you can only stay abroad for a short time, don’t go immediately
Mental models and making mistakes
Learning Chinese through social media
The virtues of language exchanges
Pros and cons with travelling to learn a language
A smart method to discover problems with tones
Learning Chinese pronunciation as a beginner
Using search engines to study Chinese
Native speakers and native speakers
Why you should use more than one textbook
Diversified learning is smart learning
You won’t learn Chinese simply by living abroad
Spaced repetition isn’t rote learning
Make sure listening isn’t a practical problem
Learn Chinese by listening to the listener
How to find more time to practise listening
Benchmarking progress to stay motivated
Reading manga for more than just pleasure
Playing word games to practise fluency
Can you become fluent in Chinese in three months?
Understanding regionally accented Mandarin
Language question triage – General guidelines
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
Recording yourself to improve speaking ability
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
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
13 more songs to learn Chinese and expand your horizons
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
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
Horizontal vocabulary learning
21 essential dictionaries and corpora for learning Chinese
14 extra songs to learn Chinese and expand your horizons
Is your flashcard deck too big for your own good?
Immersion at home or: Why you don’t have to go abroad to learn Chinese
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
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
Do you really know how to count in Chinese?
Why manually adding and editing flashcards is good for you
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
Improving your spoken and written Chinese by focusing on the process
How to learn Chinese characters as a beginner
Learning to read aloud in Chinese
Chinese immersion with Carl Gene Fordham
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
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
Improving Foreign Language Pronunciation: Interview with Hacking Chinese on Language is Culture
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
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
Is speaking more important than listening when learning Chinese?
Focusing on communication to learn Chinese
Launching Hacking Chinese Challenges
Learning how to ask for and receive directions in Chinese
Hacking Chinese Pronunciation course now open for registration
The new paperless revolution in Chinese reading
Will a Chinese-only rule improve your learning?
Learning Chinese by playing Mahjong 麻將 (májiàng)
Review: Mandarin Companion graded readers (Level 1)


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