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baogaoThis month’s challenge on Hacking Chinese is about translation, which means that at least half the challenge is focused on writing Chinese (if you translate from your native language to Chinese). In fact, for many learners, writing texts that aren’t about everyday life is mostly a translation exercise anyway; you know what you would write in your native language, now you have to translate that into Chinese.

In this article, I will share some tips and suggestions for how to translate and/or write better texts in Chinese and learn more from the process. Please note that I don’t talk about handwriting here, this is about composing text!

Tip #1: Never translate word by word, focus on the meaning

I have taken a couple of university courses focused on Swedish-English translation, and when we do that, we can mostly stick to the same word order as the original and then adjust sentences as needed. This might not produce great results every time, but it works well because Swedish and English are close linguistically. Overlapping language is in a clear majority.

This is not the case when you translate to Chinese and using the same strategy is a bad idea. You should never translate directly. The result will either be unreadable or very awkward-sounding. That is, even if you use the right words, your text will still be bad if you write English sentences with Chinese characters. What should you do instead? Split the translation into two steps.

Tip #2: Translate general meaning first, don’t get stuck on details

It’s very hard to write a text which is both a good translation and a well-written text in Chinese at the same time. Therefore, try splitting the writing process into two steps. First, make sure you translate the meaning of the original text, without caring too much if it sounds good in Chinese or not. It’s okay to use clumsy constructions and phrases you’re not sure how they are used at this stage.

Then, when you have a text that contains the meaning of the original text, forget the original text and work on the Chinese text you have, turning it into as correct and idiomatic Chinese as you can. Sometimes you will need to deviate from the original meaning to do this, but that’s usually okay. If you really care about the translation itself and not just the final text in Chinese, you should then double-check your text against the original to make sure you haven’t changed too much, but this is not necessary if you translate for practice only.

Tip #3: Use what you know, avoid what you don’t

Beginners can express much more than they think. When I started learning Chinese, I remember often thinking that I didn’t know how to express myself. It was very depressing. Then I stopped caring about getting it exactly right and just tried to get as close as possible with whatever I could come up with.This worked a lot better. Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the reasons is that saying or writing something from scratch is considerably easier than translating it from your native language!

Here is a basic example I encountered with a student last week. He has studied a few chapters in a beginner textbook, and wanted to say “rooms in China are small”. The problem was that he didn’t know how to say “in” and had forgotten how to say “small”. However, he knew the basic function of 的 and remembered how to say 房间 “room” and 中国 “China”.

With the wrong approach, a student in this situation could just say: “I don’t know how to say this in Chinese, there are several words here I don’t know” and give up. With the right approach, the student could try to express what he wants to say with the words he has available. How about: 中国的房间不大?

As it turns out, it didn’t matter that he hadn’t learnt to say “in” (which would probably have created a bad sentence if he had known it anyway) and not knowing how to say “small” didn’t matter either, because “not big” is close enough to the meaning of “small”.

Tip #4: Always check context when using a dictionary

When translating between two similar languages, you can often write a full sentence save one word you don’t know how to translate, look that word up in a dictionary later and then complete the sentence. This works almost all the time when translating between Swedish and English.

It almost never works for Chinese. This is one of the reasons it’s so hard to learn Chinese. Mappings between words in different languages is seldom 1:1, but it’s pretty close between similar languages. If you use a dictionary with the belief that a word means the same thing and is used in the same way as the English keyword you entered, you’re mistaken. When using a dictionary, you need to pay attention to:

  • Meaning - Does the word mean what you think it does in this context?
  • Usage - How is the word commonly used in sentences?
  • Collocations - Can the word you looked up be used with the other words in your sentence?

I’m teaching a course this semester where the students are writing reports in Chinese. Their Chinese level is good overall and most of them have reached conversational fluency some time ago, but most of them haven’t written any major text before. My main complaint with the texts they produce is that when they use dictionaries, they fail to pay attention the three areas listed above.. This produces a huge number of weird sentences, sometimes only comprehensible because I can guess what English word they used.

What you should do is look at the example sentences and see if the word means what you think it does and how it’s used in context. If your dictionary doesn’t have example sentences, you should use another dictionary. This certainly takes longer than just selecting a word at random, but your text will be better and you will also learn more from seeing the word used in context. The quickest way to check collocations is by using a search engine.

Tip #5: Don’t make your text more complicated than necessary

Some students think that they can write better texts in Chinese by deliberately trying to use more difficult words, longer sentences and so on. This almost never works. If you aren’t already good at writing Chinese, I suggest that you start by writing the way you speak. That will at least be easier to understand and you can gradually make your language less colloquial. I’d rather read a somewhat colloquial text that works, compared with a jumble of difficult words that don’t make sense. Similarly, if you can’t handle long and complex sentences, break them up and gradually increase length as your proficiency increases.

Conclusion

This article contains tips that I wish I could have given myself when I started writing in Chinese. It’s also the tips I give students who want to improve their writing. However, I have also taught enough students to know that most people don’t follow the advice I’ve given here. I realise that this isn’t only because they don’t know how to write, it’s also because they are pressed for time or don’t have the proper resources.

After teaching the writing course this semester, however, I really felt that this was a topic I needed to discuss. Next time, I will have an article I can point to which contains some of the most useful tips. Do you have any other tips? What advice would you offer other people who have just started writing in Chinese?


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By On December 16, 2014 · 2 Comments · In Advanced, Beginner, Intermediate, Writing

mppThis is a guest article by Julien Leyre of the Marco Polo Project. The publication of this article coincides with the start of this month’s translation challenge, so if you aren’t convinced that translation is a great tool for learning a language, this article is for you! Julien also shares many hands-on tips for making translations easier.

How translation can help you learn Chinese

Remember? Once upon a time, translation used to be the main method for learning a foreign language. But then a new model came into fashion, called the ‘communicative approach’, promoting direct interactions in the target language. This makes sense: most of us are learning Chinese to communicate, not to become professional translators. So why should we bother practicing translation at all?

In preparation for the Hacking Chinese translation Challenge that starts today, this post will talk about translation as a way to learn Mandarin. Now, translating to and from your native language (or one you’re already expert at) is a very different exercise. In a previous post, Olle discussed the benefits translation Chinese. What I’ll talk about here is translating from Chinese into your native language.

Translation as active reading

At a very basic level, practicing translation (to your native language) will bring you the same benefits as reading: you will increase your vocabulary, reading speed, grammatical intuition, and overall comprehension. If the text is well chosen, you might even gain some cultural insights in the process.

OK – I get that. But why translate? Let’s put it this way: translation is a form of active reading. In one of his posts, Olle describes different ways to practice ‘listening’, from simple background listening to active engagement with the content. The same distinction applies to reading: you can be more or less active in your practice.

To see how this applies to translation, let’s go back to basics, and start with a definition. Translation consists of creating a piece of text in a target language (in our case, most probably English), which has the same meaning, structure and stylistic characteristics as a given piece in a source language (in our case, Chinese). To do that, not only do you have to read the source text, and make sure you understand all the words in it, but you must also look at difficult or ambiguous constructions, and make sure you clearly understand all of them.

Whether in the classroom or at home, we’re often satisfied with a superficial, rough, hazy understanding of what we read. Answering a teacher’s questions (or ticking the right HSK box), or even reading aloud, does not really test our deep understanding. We skim over sentences feeling that we got the gist. Translation provides a touchstone: once you’ve got to write an equivalent in your mother tongue, you can check whether you’re actually making sense of what you read – or not.

OK, sure – but I’m nowhere near that level yet, I’m still struggling with the basics. Should I just wait?

Any form of active learning takes energy, and I’m not saying you should spent all your learning time translating, especially if you’re still in early stages. But it doesn’t mean that translation is too hard for you now. In the rest of this post, I’d like to share a few tricks that will help you moderate the difficulty, and find ways of translating that are accessible to you right now.

Choosing the right text is certainly part of the question: how long it is, how intricate the language, whether it’s full of characters you don’t know, or whether it deals with a topic you’re familiar with – all these factors will impact your ability to translate. A word of warning though: I’ve seen many people go for ‘easy’ texts, because they seem more accessible. But there’s a big catch with practicing on ‘easy’ texts only, especially graded texts written explicitly for learners: it may quickly turn out to feel very pointless.

In 2011, I set up an organisation called Marco Polo Project, which proposes translation as a way to help people learn Chinese and understand China. The project was largely inspired by my own experience and frustrations as a language teacher and Mandarin learner. I started learning Chinese in 2008, and after three years, I got tired of the trite textbook. I wanted to discover fresh and authentic writing from China – but I didn’t know where to start.

Our website offers an original selection of new writing from China, and a simple interface to translate as you read. The idea was to bring great writing to learners – intermediate and advanced – encourage them to practice translation as they read, and share their translations with less advanced learners, so they could access these new voices from China in bilingual format.

This is what our translation interface looks like – with source text on the right, and a box to write your translation on the left. Check it out at www. marcopoloproject.org – registration is entirely free.

julien1And in case you’re wondering, Marco Polo Project runs as a non-profit organisation. I hope to grow the community – but it’s not the whole point of me writing this post – there’s other ways you can practice translation. If you don’t want to do that on our website, I still encourage you warmly to exercise on a word document.

Pace yourself – be quick – and skip

I’ve taught translation at various universities. The first thing we tell students is that they absolutely have to carefully read the full text, make sure they understand all the details and really soak in the style, before starting to write their translation. Arguably, that’s how professional translators should work. But I’ll share a dirty secrete with you: that’s not what I’m going to recommend here. Quite the opposite.

If your Chinese is not perfect yet, carefully reading can take a very long time, and it can be frustrating, so frustrating actually that – unless there’s a deadline, or it’s a marked assignment, you’re more likely to give up. If your goal is to practice and learn, and if you’re not getting paid or assessed, then you should make sure the process is fast-paced enough that you get a sense of achievement and progress. There’s a simple way to do that. In my own translation practice, I always translate sentence by sentence as I go, I skip all the difficult passages deliberately – whole sentences and even entire paragraphs, and I always use google translate.

Google translate has very bad reputation, but if your reading skills are just so-so, it can be an amazing tool! It’s easy to use, it’s free, and it allows you to get the meaning of a text and sentence significantly faster and with significantly less effort than a dictionary. But you need to use it carefully. It’s often surprisingly accurate, and sometimes completely off the ball.

Concretely, this is how I would recommend you to use it. Pick a paragraph you want to translate, and paste it into the google translate box. Then split up the sentence by jumping lines after each full stop, for clarity. Look at the suggested translation, comparing it to the Chinese original. If a sentence sounds about right, copy-paste it into Marco Polo Project or your word document, or change a few words here and there to make it sound more idiomatic. You should be able to do that for about half the sentences in your text.

Half the time, however, something will be weird. When that’s the case, break up the sentence into parts by jumping lines after the main verbs, particles or connecting words. When you do that, the software will treat each component separately, and start working like a kind of predictive dictionary. Just break down the parts until you grasp the meaning. When you get it, put the parts back together in the right order, and write down your translation.

If it’s still too hard, just leave it aside until later.

julien2Now, to be clear, I’m not saying this is how you should work if you want to be a professional or literary translator. This method will not give you the most thoughtful and elegant translation every time, but it’s quick, simple and satisfying. You don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for vocabulary or stretch your memory to remember what a character means. Half the time, the machine actually does an OK job for you the first time round. Getting that sense of satisfaction, and avoiding boredom or exhaustion, will be a serious advantage for long-term learning success!

Ready to go further? Try editing your translation

Fast-translation, following the method I described above, will help you go you through large quantities of text. But if you want take it a step further, editing your own translation (or someone else’s) is a great learning exercise.

This google-assisted ‘fast translation’ probably doesn’t read very well, it might be ambiguous, or even contain downright errors and inconsistencies. To start with, I’d suggest you review the translation line by line. Focus on word order, syntax and readability. Try to make your sentences simpler, more rhythmic – but always keeping an eye on the Chinese to check you’re not betraying the meaning. This exercise will double up as vocabulary review. It will teach you to better ‘skim’ over a Chinese text, and make you more familiar with connecting words or syntactic patterns.

As a second step, consider each paragraph as a whole (or even the full text if you’ve got the time), and focus on two particular areas:

  • Tense and person: Chinese does not mark tense in the same way as English, and often omits subject pronouns. A common issue with translations will be that tense ‘jumps’ from past to present, or from ‘I’ to ‘they’ or ‘we’ without much consistency. Make sure this does not happen to you.
     
  • Keywords: your text is likely to include a series of related words from a specific semantic field related to the topic. Check that they’re used consistently from paragraph to paragraph – but also, more importantly, check that the words in English actually mean the same as the Chinese words. To do this, you might check the keywords on a couple of online dictionaries, or even with a quick google search. It’s a great way to learn a few synonyms.

And if you want to take it even further, think of style and genre. Where does your source text come from? Is it standard language, or does it deviate from linguistic norms? When you’ve answered these questions, look for elegant, concise and apt equivalents that not only map the meaning of the source text, but also the style. This is a difficult and time-consuming pursuit, not always suitable for intermediate or even early advanced learners. But it’s also a fascinating and beautiful way to gain advanced understanding of the language. If you wish to really develop your reading skills, and appreciate subtle nuances of meaning and style in Chinese, this may be one of the best ways to go.

In conclusion: beyond target language communication, train your linguistic flexibility

There’s a final type of benefit that comes from practicing translation: it will make you more linguistically flexible.

Many language classes are held in the target language entirely, we think of ‘immersion’ as a great way to progress, and the capacity to ‘think in Mandarin’ is seen as a crucial step towards fluency. I’m not rejecting any of this upfront: creating a ‘Mandarin only’ mental environment does increase our capacity to interact with Mandarin speakers and Mandarin content at a reasonable speed.

However, our capacity to switch code from one language to another may suffer in the short term – and in certain contexts, this is a very precious skill. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where a concept only came to you in Mandarin, and you started wondering – what’s the word for ‘ganga’, ‘guanxi’ or ‘haixiu’? Outside the context of bilingual classroom, this hesitation may come in the way of clear expression.

As learners of Mandarin, it’s also very likely that we will find ourselves in a mediating position. As beginners, when travelling with friends who don’t speak the language at all, we do all sorts of minor translation – signs, directions, or basic polite interactions. As we reach intermediate and advanced levels, we’ll often have an opportunity to do minor translation tasks – what does this email/sign/article say? More importantly, when we spend significant amounts of time in a Chinese-speaking environment, we’re expected to report on our experiences to friends back home, family, colleagues and partners who do not speak the language.

For this, we must train our capacity to describe the values and world-views of Mandarin speakers in our own native language, and be comfortable shifting code. Translation is probably the best preparation for this task. Beyond practical, professional and social benefits, it will help us integrate all the complex emotional experiences we’ve had in a Chinese environment to the web of long-term emotional journey – and ensure some continuity between our pre-Mandarin selves, and the bizarre animals we’ve become since getting hooked on the language.

If you’d like to read more on this topic, I’ve written elsewhere about the role that translation played in my own intellectual development – and how it nurtures critical thinking, cross-cultural tolerance, and humility. So go check out this piece.

Converted yet? Try it for yourself, and see if translation works for you! Don’t forget to join the translation challenge!

A note on my own background

I’m a French-Australian writer, educator and sinophile. I migrated from Paris to Melbourne in 2008, and I can probably count myself as perfectly fluent in both French and English today. I’ve taught languages and translation at various universities in France and Australia, studied many European languages, and reached various degrees of fluency among six of them – but Mandarin has been my biggest challenge by far.

I’d love to hear more about your experience of translation – don’t hesitate to send me a line at Julien@marcopoloproject.org

A big thanks to Julien for this article! I have mainly done translation in the other direction and hadn’t reflected too much about the importance of translating in the other direction, other than making sure that people understood texts read in class, so this article is most welcome to the collection here on Hacking Chinese.


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By On December 11, 2014 · 3 Comments · In Advanced, Intermediate, Reading

2014-12-08 19.55.35Two months have passed since the launch of Hacking Chinese Challenges and we have already completed both a listening and a reading challenge with 249 participants so far. I love these challenges myself because they help me spend more time learning Chinese.

Join this month’s translation challenge

Now it’s time to turn to a more active skill, namely translation. Historically speaking, language learning through translation has gone from being the point of language learning, through an era where target language communication only was the name of the game, to a more balanced view today. I love translation as a form of reading and writing practice, so that’s what this month’s challenge is about..

This challenge is presented in cooperation with the Marco Polo Project, a site that focuses on translating texts from Chinese to several other languages. The site is run by Julien Leyre, who also helped me developing Hacking Chinese Challenges. Julien has written an article about the benefits of Chinese-English translation, and it will be published here on Hacking Chinese on Thursday, so if you’re not convinced that this kind of practice is useful, you’ll have to wait until Thursday. You can also read my article, which is mostly about English-Chinese translation: Translating to improve your Chinese.

The challenge – December 11th to December 31st

The challenge is to learn as much Chinese as possible through translating in either direction (or both). I don’t want to decide for you if you should go for quantity or quality, or if you should go for English-Chinese or Chinese-English. It’s up to you. As was the case for previous challenges, the unit of measurement is time spent.

This is how you join:

  1. Sign-up (using your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter)
  2. View current and upcoming challenges on the front page
  3. Join the translation challenge
  4. Set a reasonable goal (see below)
  5. Report your progress on your computer or mobile device
  6. Check the graph to see if you’re on track to reaching your goal
  7. Check the leader board to see how you compare to others
  8. Share progress, tips and resources with fellow students

Two directions, multiple skills

Translation is useful in both directions. If you translate to Chinese, it become active writing practice in that you have to use the Chinese you know to express something you know about in English or another language. This forces you into new territories and helps you get away from the things you normally speak and write about. Read more about why this kind of translation is great in this post: Translating to improve your Chinese.

Translating in the other direction is also a good idea. It’s a form of very active reading and you have to understand the original text and think about what it really means. Then you have to use your native language to express these things in a manner true to the original. This is really hard, but in a different way than translating from your native language to Chinese. Read more in Julien’s article on Thursday!

Setting a reasonable goal

This challenge covers both reading practice (Chinese-English translation) and writing practice (English-Chinese translation). If you’re a serious student who studies full-time, you should aim for at least an hour a day (that’s 21 hours in total). People who are busy know their own schedules better than I do, but I think most people should be able to do half an hour five days a week, so that means roughly 7 hours (removing a day or two for any kind of holiday celebration you might have planned).

Personally, I haven’t written much coherent text in Chinese lately, but I really should, so I’m going to aim for 15 hours. This also stretches over the Christmas holiday when I should have more time to devote to a project like this. I started translating a short story I wrote in Swedish years ago, so my goal is to finish that project. I don’t know if 15 hours is enough or not, but it should take me much closer to the goal at least.

  • What’s your goal?
  • What are you going to translate?
  • What’s your experience of language learning through translation?

The challenge starts on December 11th, so you can’t start reporting progress before then. I will of course post notifications on Facebook and Twitter when the challenge starts. See you on the leader board!


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By On December 9, 2014 · 3 Comments · In About Hacking Chinese, Reading, Writing

unicycle

This is a photo from when I had just learnt to unicycle roughly six years ago. And yes, it’s raining.

In one form or another, this is the most common question I receive. It’s asked by all kinds of people, including those who haven’t studied Chinese and assume that it must be impossible, those who are studying already and want to get a reality check of their future progression, and native speakers who want to know what it feels like learning their mother tongue.

I usually answer briefly, but I’ve done that enough times to feel that I should write something more in-depth. The result is this article. It won’t give you an estimate of how fast you can learn Chinese or compare it with other languages, but it will make the question of difficulty more nuanced than simply shouting “You can learn any language in a few months!” or “Learning a foreign language is impossible!”

Two kinds of difficulty

I think people who have learnt Chinese differ in their opinions of how hard it is because they mean different things when they say “hard”. I’ve read about this several times, but I’ve never seen a good terminology for it, so I’m going to call it “vertical difficulty” and “horizontal difficulty”.

Allow me to explain:

  • Vertical difficulty is what most people think of when they say that something is hard. It means that to advance, you need to improve your skill in a way which isn’t incremental and success isn’t necessarily guaranteed just because you try enough. For instance, I’ve tried indoor climbing a few times and even though I certainly meet the physical requirements, if I try a difficult route, I simply won’t succeed, even if I try a hundred times. This is where “vertical difficulty” comes from, you need to master new skills to advance and doing so is far from certain. It might depend on your method, instructor, ability in other areas, luck and much more. In any case, you need to change something you’re doing, not just doing more of the same.
     
  • Horizontal difficulty is very different. It’s still difficult, of course, but it requires you to do the same thing over and over – for a long time. This is the kind of activity where trying enough is guaranteed to give you success sooner or later. If your goal is to walk a thousand kilometres, you’re not going to fail the task because a certain (literal) step along the way is too hard, you’re going to fail because there are too many steps. You failed to put one foot in front of the other and didn’t reach your goal. This is where “horizontal difficulty” comes from, it needs no specific new skills, but you need to persist for a long time to succeed. You need to do more of the same, in other words.

Both these types of tasks are difficult, but they are difficult in completely different ways. I think most people would say that vertical difficulty is the scarier one, and they’d be right, psychologically, it’s harder to learn to unicycle than it is to walk a fifty kilometres. However, if the time it takes to accomplish something is what matters, I actually learnt to unicycle 100 metres several times faster than it would take to walk fifty kilometres.

Naturally, there are probably no tasks that are perfectly vertical and there are no tasks that are perfectly horizontal either, it’s a spectrum. Most activities are also complex and consist of many different tasks, so it’s problematic to sum them up in just one word.

For instance, walking a thousand kilometres isn’t something you can do just by putting one foot in front of the other, you need planning and you need to know what you’re doing. Similarly, all tasks with vertical difficulty also includes a lot of horizontal difficulty. Enough practice will get you very far, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel like that.

Image credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Romary

Image credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Romary

Varying the slope

Many learning methods and strategies strive to help you learn faster by adjusting the slope. This means avoiding the extremes, decreasing the angle of the difficult tasks and increasing the angle for the easy ones. For instance, if you want to climb a difficult course, your best bet is to learn the basics first and try easier courses and then gradually build your skill. Then you can try the harder ones.

The opposite is less obvious, but still true in many cases. When I got past the beginner threshold for unicycling and could ride on normal roads until I got tired without falling, I found that I didn’t learn much by doing so. The difficulty was too horizontal. Then I tried riding forest tracks (which is really hard) and noticed incredible increases in my balance and control on ordinary roads as well. Increasing the slope helped me learn much faster.

The difficulty of language learning

This website is about learning languages in general and Chinese in particular, so you might feel that it’s high time to turn to learning Chinese. I agree.

What kind of activity is Chinese, then? Is it mostly vertical or mostly horizontal? Before I give my answer to that, let’s look at a few tasks associated with learning Chinese and see where they belong:

Chinese learning tasks with vertical difficulty

  • Learning basic pronunciation
  • Learning tones
  • Some grammar elements
  • Understanding characters
  • Handwriting (beginners)

Chinese learning tasks with horizontal difficulty

  • Learning thousands of characters
  • Learning thousands of collocations
  • Improving listening ability
  • Improving reading ability (especially reading speed)
  • Handwriting (advanced)

Note that handwriting appears twice. I could in fact have added more tasks that qualify for both lists at different stages of learning. I would say most things are vertically difficult for beginners since everything is completely new. The more advanced you become, the more the difficulty slope flattens out. At a very advanced level, learning mainly consists of using the language as much as possible, including all four skills. This isn’t as demanding as it is for a beginner to do practise the same skills.

Are there any other Chinese-learning tasks that are clearly horizontal or vertical? Do you agree with my classification?

Language learning is mostly horizontal

Except for the beginner stages, I think language learning is mostly horizontal. The amount of time you invest is by far the most important factor and any normal person who tries enough will likely succeed. However, remember that a task that is horizontal is still difficult! Most people fail learning a language because they don’t persist or don’t spend enough time, they don’t fail because the grammar is too hard to understand or pronunciation too hard to learn.

Naturally, there are many vertical elements as well. You can speak a foreign language for ten years and still have pronunciation errors, which is a clear sign that pronunciation has a vertical component. If you write a diary in Chinese by hand the rest of your life without anyone checking your writing, it will contain many errors even after a lifetime of practice.

Some things require high quality practice, others not so much.

The method matters

Which method you use is important both for vertical and horizontal tasks, but the results are different. When you’re engaged in a vertical task, the method is everything. Failing to apply the proper method means that you won’t succeed. This is why some have bad pronunciation even after ten years, it’s not that they haven’t practised enough, it’s that they haven’t practised with the right method.

Failing to apply the proper method for a horizontal task doesn’t mean that you will definitely fail, it just means that it will take longer to reach your goal. Vocabulary learning is a good example. Learning ten thousand words is definitely a horizontal task, but if you use the wrong methods to learn and remember vocabulary, it might take you several times longer than if you use the proper methods.

Study quality, comfort zones and the difficulty slope

The difficulty slope I have introduced in this article relates to many other concepts I’ve been talking about before. I often talk about quality and quantity, which are strongly related to vertical and horizontal respectively. If I tell you that you mostly need quantity to improve, it means you’re facing a horizontal task. If I say you should sit down and go through something carefully with a teacher, it’s probably vertical in nature; more practice won’t necessarily help.

I’ve also said that you should leave your comfort zone if you want to learn as much as possible. This is related to what I said about unicycling in the forest above, you won’t learn much by doing something you think is very, very easy. If you can, increase the difficulty and you will notice big differences, even for the tasks you already though were easy before.

Listening ability is a good example of this. By listening only to things you know (your teacher, your textbook), you won’t learn very fast, but if you spend enough time listening to things that are considerably more difficulty, you will have a harder time and spend more energy, but you will learn much faster.

Vertical and horizontal difficulty

They are both difficult. You need different tactics to meet different challenges. Hacking Chinese is about overcoming both these kinds of difficulties, but the more I study and teach languages, the more I realise that it’s really the horizontal tasks that are the most difficult for the average student. It’s hard to take the next step when you know you have a thousand kilometres to walk. I find it much easier to concentrate on the next handhold and try to negotiate my way up a wall.

Therefore, Chinese isn’t difficult in the way most people think, i.e. vertically difficult. The problem lies in spending enough time over many years to learn more characters, words and phrases. The difficulty lies in reading and listening enough, and in speaking and writing enough Chinese to hone active skills. In this sense, learning Chinese is much more like a thousand mile journey than scaling a steep wall.


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Image source: freeimages.com/profile/ilco

Image source: freeimages.com/profile/ilco

Not everything I write about learning Chinese ends up here on Hacking Chinese. Some things will be available later as Hacking Chinese articles or projects, but much is written for other websites.

Here’s what I wrote up to the beginning of November:

Various articles about Mandarin on About.com
October, 2014 – About.com
These articles were all published on About.com through my role as Mandarin expert writer there:

  1. Asking for directions in Mandarin Chinese: Finding your way in Mandarin
  2.  Learning Mandarin Chinese through immersion: Changing your environment to improve your learning
  3.  Music Mandarin: Eason Chan – “Ten Years”: Learn Mandarin by listening to music and studying the lyrics
  4.  Mandarin multitasking with “yibian… yibian…”: A sentence pattern to express simultaneous activities
  5.  Tone changes of the character “yi” (one): How the tone changes in different contexts, with examples
  6.  Tone changes of the character “bu” (not, no): How the tone changes in different contexts, with examples
  7.  Yi – “one” – Chinese character profile: A closer look at the character Yi (“one”), its meanings and usages
  8.  How the rule of three can help you learn Chinese better: Learning more by avoiding perfectionism
  9.  Youdao – An excellent free online Chinese dictionary: How and why to use Youdao to learn Chinese

What should you do when you forget a word?
October, 2014 – Skritter
We all forget words when learning a language, but what should you do when you forget a word? Ignore it? Take decisive action? There are numerous things you can and should do when you forget a word when using spaced repetition software, and in this article I discuss some of them. I also mention some things you should avoid doing when forgetting a word.

How to Speak Chinese Well: 5 Simple Tips for Extraordinary Fluency
October, 2014 – FluentU
Learning to speak Chinese requires a lot of practice, but it does matter how you practice and there are some tricks you can use to learn more and faster. The title of this post obviously isn’t chosen by me, but I still think the article’s main arguments are well worth sharing.

That’s it for now! I will keep posting one article round-up every month, collecting the articles from the previous months. If you like Hacking Chinese or what I’m writing in general, the best thing you can do is to share! Donations are also more than welcome! If you want to read more about my different roles on Skritter and About.com, please read the first monthly round-up. If you want to view all articles written by me but published elsewhere, check my bibliography page.


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This month’s reading challenge has run for more than two weeks now and my progress report is late. I have moved house and spent most of my time carting boxes around and sort through the mess. This is not an ideal environment either for reading Chinese or writing articles on Hacking Chinese.

Still, I want to write a bit about my reading challenge so far and I’m also curious to hear how you’ve done. There are still four days left, so if you haven’t reached your goal yet, you still have almost 100 hours to play with!

More about Hacking Chinese Challenges

If you want to know more about Hacking Chinese Challenges, you can either go there directly or read this introductory article! Next month’s challenge is going to be translation, so even if you still have things to read, you can sign up now if you want to.

If you have trouble getting yourself to read as much as you said you would, don’t forget to read last week’s article about finding more time to read Chinese! I have of course written much more about time management in particular, so check that category for more information and inspiration!

My challenge so far

I knew that I would be busy this month, so I set a modest goal of reading ten hours of Chinese. I’ve so far ready mostly on my e-reader (I have a Kobo, but I don’t really recommend it for others who’re going to use it mostly for reading Chinese since it doesn’t have a native Chinese dictionary), but I’ve also read random articles online and continued reading paperback novels.

Here’s what I’ve read so far:

  • 黃金時代 by 王小波 - This is a novel in three parts and I stopped reading after the first book. The language is relatively straightforward, but I must admit I don’t understand why this book is famous. It felt much like a juvenile adventure book set in the countryside during the cultural revolution. The characters were moderately interesting, but neither the setting nor the plot caught my fancy. If you have read this book and feel like explaining why it’s good, please leave a comment!
     
  • 天空之火 (The Fires of Heaven) by Robert Jordan - As I have mentioned elsewhere, I’m trying to complete a project where I read the first real book series I started reading in English more than 15 years ago, but now in Chinese. I started reading The Wheel of Time in Swedish when I was twelve or so, then switched to English because the translator was too slow, then stopped reading in English because the author was too slow. This is the fifth book in the series.

I anticipated little or no reading at all this week and spent a fair amount of time reading before that, so my progress looks like this:

progresserportI’m not sure if I will be able to finish on time or not, considering that I have amassed a huge backlog of other things I should have done. Still, it would only entail half an hour’s reading for the rest of the week, so it shouldn’t be impossible!

Controlling the environment is key I think, I will probably read enough just by strategically placing Chinese reading material in our new apartment and getting rid of the English I’m tempted to read instead. I should probably download some texts to my phone as well, even if I do have my e-reader around most of the time.

Your challenge

Enough about me, how about you? What was your goal and how has the challenge been for you so far? There are now 110 participants in the challenge and even though I can view your progress on the leader board, it would be great to hear what you think about the challenge so far.

Please also include what you have read and a brief introduction to it so that other readers can find reading material by browsing the comments. Reading preferences are of course very personal, but following other learners’ recommendations is still better than randomly guessing at what to read next!


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By On November 27, 2014 · 3 Comments · In About Hacking Chinese, Reading

scorecard-smallAfter a successful first test run of my pronunciation course, it’s now time for a second round. I’ve learnt a and improved the course accordingly.

Today,I’m opening the course again! Since I’m doing most of the work manually on my own, the number of slots will be limited. Last time, the slots were sold out the first day, so if you want to sign up, don’t wait too long!

The course is now closed and will open again next y

What is the purpose of the course?

I have studied, taught and researched Chinese pronunciation for some time, partly because I think that pronunciation is the weakest part of Chinese education in general, but mostly because I really enjoy it.

One of the most serious problems is that intermediate and advanced students typically don’t even know that they have pronunciation problems. If they do, they usually don’t know exactly what they are and how to fix them.

Filling that gap is the goal of this course. I will find, analyse and explain problems with your pronunciation, as well as provide you with the tools you need to improve your pronunciation in general. The analysis is done on the syllable, word and sentence level, plus a free speech sample where you talk about a topic of your choice without a script.

Note that this course doesn’t teach you pronunciation from scratch, it assumes you have been taught basic pronunciation and want to improve beyond that.

What do you get?

This is what you get:

  1. A listening check including initials, finals and tones
  2. A detailed analysis of your pronunciation (see below)
  3. A thorough benchmark of your pronunciation
  4. Audio feedback on your priority errors, recorded by me
  5. Detailed explanations of your priority errors (text, audio and graphics)
  6. An in-depth 35-page guide on how to improve pronunciation
  7. Early preview of my tone training course developed for my research

Here’s what the first two pages of the scoring protocol looks like (there are five pages in total). You can click the images for larger versions if you are curious. This is your benchmark and overview, there will also be detailed explanations of the priority errors listed on the first page.

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How do you register?

If you think this sounds great and you want to try it out, all you need to do is to buy the course below. The price is $80, based on the fact that each student takes several hours of my time. This is not an automated assessment, I’m giving you direct, personal feedback!

Add to Cart View Cart
Payments are done through PayPal (which also accepts debit/credit cards). Once you have purchased the course, you will be able to download the course material, a guide on how to improve pronunciation as well as further instructions

Everything will be explained in more detail later, but this is a brief overview:

  1. Read the instructions (really)
  2. Complete the audio check
  3. Record the audio
  4. Send the audio to me for analysis
  5. Read the pronunciation guide while you wait
  6. Receive your personal feedback
  7. Go through and understand your feedback
  8. Start improving your pronunciation
  9. Try out my tone training course (contact me directly for this)

Naturally, taking this course doesn’t guarantee that your pronunciation will become perfect, but I have done my very best to provide the tools and the information you need to improve. You will of course still need to spend a lot of time on your own; improving pronunciation is certainly doable, but it’s not easy!

Sign up by purchasing the course here:

Add to Cart View Cart

What do people think of the course?

This version is a new and heavily upgraded version of the previous one. These testimonials below refer to the old version, but since I have only added to the course and the additions are partly based on what these people suggested, I’m confident they would be even more satisfied if they took the course again (which they are of course welcome to do).

I have been studying Mandarin on and off for more than 20 years, but this is the first time I’ve accessed such an in-depth, methodical critique of my pronunciation.   Olle’s course is incredibly helpful at isolating errors and suggesting areas to work on.  I just wish something like this had been available when I first started studying, as I fear my pronunciation errors might be too ingrained by now.  I don’t know of anything else like this available on the web, and the fact that it can be done by email using a simple recording device such as a smart phone makes it very accessible.

- Anne B.

Good pronunciation is essential to be understood, especially in Chinese, but often we don´t even know what we are doing wrong. To be aware of your own mistakes is the first step to correct them. This course has given me very accurate information, with examples, of what I pronounce incorrectly. This way is much easier to work to correct the problems. So I can focus on the real issues. It also gives you information on what you do well, which is always very encouraging to keep improving. I have found some mistakes I was not aware of and which are not difficult to correct.

- Ana Herranz Z.

Although many Chinese universities offer pronunciation courses, the level of them varies. Basically you can have a very good and helpful course or then a kind of course that doesn’t really help at all. In your case, I would feel confident to tell my friends you are taking the thing seriously and as a westerner you might be able to help westerners even better than Chinese teachers in some cases. Your course is also a very quick way to identify the most serious problems which gives the learner a good opportunity to start working on them right away.

- Janna L.

Still in development

Even though I have spent a lot of effort developing the contents of this course, it’s still an ongoing project. For instance, the included guide on how to change pronunciation hasn’t been read by many and isn’t perfect in any way. However, instead of being stuck on the tinkering stage for months, I prefer to get things out there and try them out with you. I hope that you’re willing to offer me feedback so I can improve the course!


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2014-11-13 20.17.10This month’s challenge is about reading Chinese, and that seems to be as good a reason as any to publish an article about habit formation and reading practice.

As is the case for listening, learning to read Chinese takes a lot of time and you need to form habits that allows you to read enough text. I have already written an article called Habit Hacking for Language Learners, but in this article, I’m going to focus explicitly on reading. Naturally, part of the answer is also challenges like the one that started this Monday (join here if you haven’t already).

Now let’s look at how to increase the time you spend reading Chinese.

Solve all practical problems first

A requirement for reading a lot in Chinese is to always have something to read. If you feel that you want to read, but don’t have anything at hand, you have failed to do the basic preparations. To make sure you always have something to read, you should keep reading material with you at all times, plus put reading material in places where you’re likely to have some spare time.

The easiest way to do this is to have text stored on your phone. This can be in the form of a simple text file, a real e-book or some other format, it doesn’t really matter. I find Pleco’s reader add-on very useful (direct link here), because it gives me a pop-up dictionary integrated with the text I’m reading. I’ve read several novels in this way. I don’t think a small screen is a problem, in fact it might be a good thing because it avoids overwhelming me with too much text at once.

Controlling your environment

Apart from this, you should also put reading material where you typically feel like reading. I have an e-reader and I keep that next to my bed so I can read before falling asleep. I usually also put something to read in the bathroom.

Finally, you should remove distracting elements from these same locations. Remove your e-books in English from your phone, don’t have a novel in English on your bedside table. It should require no effort to start reading Chinese, considerably more if you want to do it in your native language.

Find interesting material to read

One of the trickiest parts when learning to read Chinese is the dearth of interesting reading material. I suggested some resource collections both in the challenge article and in a separate post about reading material earlier this week, but we all like different things and there’s no guarantee you will like the same texts as I do.

Don’t hesitate to give up on a text because it doesn’t interest you, spend some time trying to find something as interesting as you can. It’s usually preferably to read a text which is too hard or too easy rather than reading a text you really don’t like.

wotUnless you’re an avid reader, I also suggest reading short pieces of text. A novel might feel overwhelming and take you 50 hours to finish, but a short article or story doesn’t take that long. Bite-sized learning is usually a good idea. One way of doing this is by reading comics, which of course has many merits apart from this.

On the other hand, sometimes reading a long text can be more relaxing, but this is probably only for advanced learners. I’m still reading a translation of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time in Chinese and it’s not that hard to read because I’m so used to it. Not changing to new texts all the time makes reading relaxing for me.

Finally, if you have any suggestions to other learners for what to read, especially beginners and intermediate learners, please share in the comments!

Don’t check every single word if you don’t want to

Reading is fun, flipping through a dictionary isn’t (even if it’s electronic). If you don’t already have a large vocabulary, it’s likely you will encounter many new words when reading authentic Chinese texts. If you want to, you can look up all these words, but I think this kills motivation like nothing else. Instead, I usually only look up words that are crucial for understanding the plot or words that recur several times.

This is why a pop-up dictionary is so useful: you can look up words in a second, which is fast enough to not really interrupt reading. Note that learning the word is a different decision and one you can usually postpone. Only learn words you think are important and common. Every rare word you learn means you have less time to learn a common one.

Naturally, if you really want to, feel free to look up as much as you want, I’m just saying that you don’t need to if you don’t want to.

Conclusion

I think the key to forming habits is to control the environment rather than to control yourself. Make sure you have the necessary reading material in the places you’re most likely to need it, remove English reading material from these same locations. This is easier than trying to avoid the temptation to make things easier and revert to English. Combine this with a challenge and you’re ready to go!

When it comes to motivation, the reading material itself is really important, but it also matters how you approach it. You don’t have to learn everything, reading in Chinese needn’t be a chore. Skipping things you don’t understand is perfectly okay if you get the gist anyway. Keep in touch with other learners, see what they like and exchange ideas for what to read!


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Reading is one of the most important activities when learning a second language. It’s an important source of vocabulary, and compared with listening, it offers you much more control over your learning.

You can read at your own pace and looking up things is considerably easier than when listening. There’s also a lot more written material available for learners.

Extensive reading challenge, November 10th to 30th

This month’s challenge on Hacking Chinese is about extensive reading. That means that you should read as much as you can, preferably about different topics and in different genres, rather than spending too much time trying to understand everything in a short text. Quantity is king.

If you want to know more about the challenge, click here, or if you want to know more about Hacking Chinese Challenges, check this. You can also sign up for the reading challenge directly here.

What should you read?

Just like I did for the listening challenge (The 10 best free listening resource collections for learning Chinese), I’m going to try to offer some free resource collections you can use. I have now collected almost 290 resources for learning Chinese, all sorted and tagged for your convenience. 79 of them are about reading.

Below, I will introduce the best free resource collections available. Here, “resource collection” means a site that offers a large number of texts, so each of these potentially offer hundreds or even thousands of hours of reading! Note that some great resources such as graded readers have been excluded because they are not free. Check out the complete list here.

This is what I did to generate this list (you can generate similar lists tailored to your needs by heading over to Hacking Chinese Resources):

The 10 best free reading resource collections

Below, I have listed the best ranked resource collections, along with a direct link to the collection, a short introduction written by the person who submitted it and a link to the resource so you can vote/comment on it if you want to. If you have other resource collections, please share them! If you need an invite to Hacking Chinese Resources, let me know!

1.Thumb snapshot Chinese Text Sampler: Readings in Chinese Literature, History, and Popular Culture
(beginner, intermediate, advanced, submitted by Mike Love, vote/comment)

A carefully chosen selection of 80 significant Chinese texts for students wishing to develop their reading skills while improving their cultural literacy. Includes classical and modern Chinese literature, historical documents, song lyrics, children’s stories, and lists of commonly used characters, idioms, and proverbs

2.Thumb snapshot Marco Polo Project – read and translate new writing from China
(advanced, submitted by Julien Leyre, vote/comment)

The Marco Polo Project is a digital community reading and translating new writing from China. The website proposes a diverse and original selection of new Chinese writing by independent journalists and intellectuals, with bilingual titles and tagging. Users can contribute to the translation of these articles, read a bilingual versions of those already translated, or use the website for Chinese reading practice.

(intermediate, advanced, submitted by, vote/comment)
This is a great repository of short stories for beginner and intermediate learners. Some of them also have audio and all have translations to English and word lists! I would be a little bit careful with trusting their difficulty ratings, though, I checked some stories that were meant to be beginner-intermediate that were definitely too hard form most students in this range. Still very good resource, though.

4.Thumb snapshot 纽约时报中文网 国际纵览 (New York Times, Chinese)
(advanced, submitted by me, vote/comment)

This is the Chinese website of the New York Times. It obviously contains large amounts of reading material about current issues as well as other things. The articles are available in both Chinese and English, and there is even an option to turn on parallel reading (Chinese on one side, English on the other). I can think of few better ways of easing yourself into reading Chinese news! Try using a pop-up dictionary like Pera pera as well.

5. Thumb snapshot Chinese Text Project (classical Chinese)
(advanced, submitted by me, vote/comment)

The Chinese Text Project is a web-based e-text system designed to present ancient Chinese texts, particularly those relating to Chinese philosophy, in a well-structured and properly cross-referenced manner, making the most of the electronic medium to aid in the study and understanding of these texts. Note: I realise that this might not be the best resource for an extensive reading challenge, but it’s still a great reading resource!

6.Thumb snapshot Chengyu stories, chinese idioms – Chinese-Tools.com
(beginner, intermediate, submitted by me, vote/comment)

Chinese Idioms or Chengyu are short sayings usually consisting of four characters. Unless you know the story and its common usage, a Chengyu will sound like random nonsense. Here are some Chengyu stories, as taught to chinese students, with pinyin and chinese annotation.

7.Thumb snapshot 好讀 (E-books in traditional Chinese)
(advanced, submitted by me, vote/comment)

This site contains a huge amount of e-books in traditional Chinese. My guess is that downloading and reading them without having the original text might be illegal, but even so, it’s often great to have an electronic version of a book you’re reading in print. This allows you to find passages by searching, copying words and sentences into your SRS and so on. There are also some audio books here (recorded by amateurs, mostly).

 8.Thumb snapshot ChineseLevel – Test your Chinese level, improve your reading, measure your progress
(beginner, intermediate, advanced, submitted by me, vote/comment)

This is a really cool website that assesses your reading ability and then offers reading suggestions based on your estimated vocabulary knowledge. I haven’t used this enough to figure out how accurate it is, so if anyone has used this more than a few times, it would be great to hear what you think about it!

9.Thumb snapshot 煎蛋:地球上没有新鲜事
(intermediate, advanced, submitted by me, vote/comment)

This website contains a lot of short and easy-to-access articles about science and technology related articles (although they are usually very lightweight, you don’t need to actually be a professional to understand this). There are lots of sections on this site and I want to point to one in particular (apart from the front page). 小学堂 explains different science-related questions, such as how do scientists deduce the age of planets, where does the water on Earth come from and why is spicy food spicy?

10.Thumb snapshot 中文阅读天地 (University of Iowa)
(beginner, intermediate, advanced, submitted by me)

This site contains a huge number of lessons, complete with texts, vocabulary, audio, exercises and much more. And it’s all free. Note that if you want to get the intermediate and advanced material, you need to click the appropriate link in the top navigation (it wasn’t possible to link to a main page or portal of some kind, doesn’t seem to be one there).

Conclusion

There’s a lot of great reading material out there, all free. As I mentioned, though, some of the greatest reading material, especially for beginners, isn’t free (textbooks and grader readers). For suggestions, check the article from last week.

If you have suggestions for other reading resources, please share in the comments! Please include whom the resource is for and a brief introduction so I can share it on Hacking Chinese Resources. Later this week, I’ll post an article about how to increase the time you have available for reading, stay tuned!


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Last month, 139 learners spent a total of 924 hours improving their listening ability in the October extensive listening challenge. The reason I launched Hacking Chinese Challenges roughly a month ago was of course that challenges help me get more things done, and it’s great to see that many of you seem to agree!

As I said in the launch post, I’m going to run one challenge every month, starting around the 10th and ending on the last day of the month. In November, the focus of the challenge was listening, so now it’s time to turn to the other major passive skill: reading.

Just like last month, the idea is to set a reasonable goal and read as much Chinese as you can before the end of November. You can compete against yourself or against others, it’s completely up to you!

Join the extensive reading challenge

Joining is easy:

  1. Sign up or log in (using your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter)
  2. View current and upcoming challenges on the front page
  3. Join the extensive reading challenge
  4. Set a reasonable goal (see below)
  5. Report your progress on your computer or mobile device
  6. Check the graph to see if you’re on track to reaching your goal
  7. Check the leader board to see how you compare to others
  8. Share progress and resources in the comments

The challenge starts on Monday (November 10th) and lasts until the last day of the month (Sunday, November 30th). That means that you have three weeks to read as much Chinese as you can. Even though the challenge title is “extensive reading”, you can read anything you want. I like quantity when it comes to improving reading ability, but don’t let that stop you from focusing on quality if that’s what you want.

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Setting a reasonable goal

Reading requires time of a higher quality than listening so you shouldn’t expect to be able to read as much as you listened last month if you participated in that challenge. I think ambitious learners with lots of time on their hands should go for at least an hour per day.

I’m going to be busy with real-life events this month and will opt for half an hour per day, or 10 hours for the entire challenge. That’s still five times more than I’ve read recently, so I expect a boost to my Chinese reading time.

Set a goal you feel comfortable with. It should be within realistic reach, but not so easy you would have achieved it without really trying.

Choosing reading material

I’m going to publish an article with suggested reading resources early next week (just like I did for the listening challenge, see The 10 best free listening resource collections for learning Chinese), but I’ll offer a few quick suggestions here to get you started (you can also head over to Hacking Chinese Resources and select reading resources for your particular level):

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

There are of course more resources out there, but if you have any particularly suitable for beginners, please let me know! If you want an invite to share on Hacking Chinese Resources, just leave a comment.

Learning how to read in Chinese

Becoming literate in Chinese is along and sometimes difficult journey, but there are many things that can make it easier and more enjoyable. I have written a lot about this already and here are some of the most important articles that might help you in this challenge (and in general, of course). If you want more, just check the reading category.

  1. The importance of knowing many words – Any teacher, student or researcher will agree that vocabulary is very important, but few of them will go as far as I will in this direction. I don’t simply believe that vocabulary is king, I believe it’s god emperor as well. Learning many words enables you to communicate and it also makes you learn other areas of the language faster.
     
  2. Benchmarking progress to stay motivated – When we set out to learn Chinese, everything we learn is new and we can feel that we improve for each day that goes by, for each time we are exposed to the language. We know this because, in relative terms, we’re learning so much. As we progress, this feeling weakens. In this article, we look at benchmarking and how it can help us stay motivated.
     
  3. Reading manga for more than just pleasure – This article is about reading manga (comics) in order to improve your Chinese. Manga serves two important functions apart from being enjoyable in itself. Firstly, it gives us access to language we would otherwise hardly ever see in written form. Secondly, it lowers the threshold for reading books in Chinese. Reading manga just for fun is fine, but if you think about it, you’ll see that it can be very useful as well!
     
  4. Reading speed: Learning how to read ten lines at a glance - Reading quickly is useful when taking tests and in any situation where you want consume large volumes of test. However, simply reading a lot is not the most efficient way to reach high speeds, you actually need to focus on reading speed to do that. In this article I discus various methods, tips and tricks, along with some thoughts on goals and problem analysis.
     
  5. Learning simplified and traditional Chinese – Learning traditional characters if you know simplified or vice versa is a lot easier than beginners tend to think. Generally, you don’t need to worry, because at an advanced level, learning both is quite easy. This article is about simplified/traditional and how to learn both.
     
  6. A language learner’s guide to reading comics in Chinese – This article is a guide to reading comics in Chinese, suitable for beginners as well as those who already have some experience. Reading comics is an excellent way of attacking the Great Wall of Chinese (the daunting effect of seeing a whole page of text and not knowing what to do). It’s also fun, which is arguably the most important thing.

That’s it for now, see you in the challenge!


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By On November 6, 2014 · 20 Comments · In About Hacking Chinese, Reading