Hacking Chinese meet-up in Beijing 2015-07-12

It’s time for the first Hacking Chinese meet-up in Beijing! I have arranged many meet-ups in Taipei since I lived there for many years, but this is the first time I arrange a meet-up in Mainland China. The meet-up will take place this Sunday in Beijing.

The main purpose of the meet-up is to meet other people who are interested not only in learning Chinese in general, but also in how to do it in a better way. The atmosphere is meant to be relaxed, informal and without a fixed agenda. We talk about whatever we want while having lunch or something to drink.

The main language will be English since I want to include people who aren’t fluent in Mandarin yet, but of course Chinese will be used too. Everyone is welcome: beginners, advanced learners, teachers and native speakers.

If you want to join, please send an e-mail to editor@hackingchinese.com. If you’re going to bring your friend, partner or whatever, please let me know that as well so we can book the appropriate number of tables.

Time: Sunday, 12-16 (ish)
Venue: TBA (central Beijing)
Registration: By e-mail before Friday

Exact location will be announced later to those that sign u p, but it will be somewhere in central Beijing, easily accessible by public transport. The meet-up itself is of course free, but the cafe or restaurant might have a minimum charge. Looking forward to meeting you all!

Technical problems and theme issues

servercrash1-300x225As you might have noticed, Hacking Chinese has been down for a few days earlier this week, and even if it’s up and running now, it doesn’t look the way it used to and not everything is working properly. This is because of some technical problems I haven’t been able to solve completely yet.

Unfortunately, this happened just as I left for China and since I’m currently travelling, I have limited time to deal with the problem. I’ve made sure that at least all content in available, but I won’t be able to solve all issues until I get back home.

Content online, but with problems

If you find anything important that isn’t working, please let me know and I’ll try to fix it. Here are some problems i’m aware of:

  • Post listings on category pages don’t work
  • Pictures don’t load

All articles and links should work, though. The current theme is not meant to stay, but rather than spending many hours fixing everything, I will try to get a new design for the site and use that. That means that the site will look like it does now until the new design is ready.

Beijing meet-up in July

The site went down just when I planned to announce the Beijing meet-up, so I had to cancel it since I had no way of reaching out and no time to arrange it. I will, however, be back in Beijing again on July 10th and still want to arrange a meet-up before I leave on July 15th. I will write more about this when I know more. If you’re interested, please contact me via e-mail so I know how to contact you directly. If you have previously sent me an e-mail about this, you don’t need to do it again.

Sorry for the inconvenience

Finally, I’m sorry for any inconvenience these problems may have caused. The timing is really bad and this is the best I can do under the current circumstances!

Hacking Chinese China Tour 2015

Image credit: Nggsc (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Image credit: Nggsc (CC BY-SA 3.0)

When I lived in Taiwan, I arranged regular Hacking Chinese meet-ups where fellow language learners and other interested persons could meet and discuss in a relaxed manner. I enjoyed these meet-ups immensely since they offered a rare opportunity to talk about learning Chinese with other interested learners face-to-face instead of online.

I have been asked many times if I can’t arrange such meetings on the Mainland as well and the answer so far has been that I can’t, simply because I haven’t been in the vicinity.

This summer, however, I will be in China for roughly a month and this is a great opportunity to meet! Therefore, if you are in China this summer and want to meet, check the dates below.

Hacking Chinese China Tour 2015

Tour schedule (subject to change):

  1. June 23: Beijing
  2. July 8-9: Kunming
  3. July 12-13: Beijing

If you are interested in coming to any of these meet-ups, contact me here and include your name and e-mail address. Please also include if you live in the area and can help me find a venue. Since the meet-ups are likely to me small, this just means booking tables at a restaurant or café, nothing more complicated than that. Please also note that the meet-ups will only be held if enough people show an interest and someone is willing to help me arrange them!

Anyone is welcome to these meet-ups, including complete beginners, advanced learners, teachers and native speakers. Since I don’t want to exclude beginners, English will be the main language, although Chinese will of course also be used, just don’t feel that you’re Chinese isn’t good enough to show up. See you!

Chinese listening challenge, June 10th to June 30th

listening-challengeOne of the goals with Hacking Chinese Challenges is to provide a motivational boost and a sense of direction to students, including myself, This means that I try to  arrange the challenges in such a way that if you participated in all of them, you will get a good mix of different kinds of practice.

Based on experience, I know that most students don’t spend enough time just reading or just listening. I don’t mean struggling through Chinese above your level, I mean aiming for sheer volume. At or slightly below your level is preferable.

Extensive listening challenge coming up

The previous listening challenge was held in March and set an all-time record for time logged: 1255 hours with 87 participants. Not bad! While it would be cool to beat that record, the most important thing is that you listen to more Chinese in June than you would have done without the challenge. This is what you should do:

  1. Sign-up (using your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter)
  2. View current and upcoming challenges on the front page
  3. Join the extensive listening 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

Please note:  The challenge starts on June 10th, so even if you can join now, you won’t be able to report progress until then.

Extensive listening means that you should listen as much as you can. It’s the opposite of intensive listening where you try to understand everything, stop if you don’t understand something and listen for details. Extensive listening is about breadth, quantity and variety. You probably do intensive listening in class and in real conversations, but you probably don’t do extensive listening enough.

What should you listen to?

Start by looking here:

  1. The 10 best free listening resource collections for learning Chinese I wrote this article in connection with the previous challenge. It’s a collection of podcasts, radio shows and much more. Note that I have excluded any paid resources in this post.
  2. Hacking Chinese Resources The resource section of Hacking Chinese currently contains 86 resources tagged with “listening”. Many of them are resource collections, where you can find hundreds or even thousands of clips. First select your proficiency level and then listening.

If you have other resources that aren’t shared here already, please leave a comment or contact me in any other way. If you want an invite for Hacking Chinese Resources so you can post your resources directly, just let me know. Just to be on the safe side, here are the basic recommendations I offered last time, sorted by proficiency level:

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Setting a reasonable goal

Know what works for each individual learner is impossible, but you should try to set a goal which is as high as possible without feeling unreachable. If this is your first challenge or if you’re not sure what you’re capable of, go for 10 hours or so. If you know what you’re doing, you can easily aim for twice or three times that much. The winner last time listened for 198 hours! Personally, I’m going to aim for an hour a day, so 20 hours. I have lots of other things I want to listen to that aren’t in Chinese.

More about listening comprehension on Hacking Chinese

I’ve written many articles about listening ability and related topics, here are some of the most relevant ones:

banner-6d4254dcd18e969ada6d74100a40a9de

Preliminary challenge schedule for 2015

To make sure that the challenges cover all major areas, I have created a rough schedule of what challenges will be on for the rest of the year. I might change this somewhat and insert more specific or unusual challenges here and there (if you have any ideas, please let me know). Challenges in italics are preliminary.

  1. January: Characters
  2. February: Pronunciation
  3. March: Listening
  4. April: Reading
  5. May: Writing
  6. June: Listening
  7. July: Speaking
  8. August: Reading
  9. September: Characters
  10. October: Listening
  11. November: Writing
  12. December: Reading

Articles by me published elsewhere: May 2015 round-up

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.

I have updated my bibliography accordingly, and here are all the new articles published before the start of May:

Various articles about Mandarin on About.com
April, 2015 – About.com

These articles were all published on About.com through my role as Mandarin expert writer there:

  1. How to learn and remember more words in Chinese – The best tools and methods
  2. Chinese character simplification – Four methods making Chinese easier to write
  3. Why you should practise reading Chinese digitally – How modern technology will help you learn Chinese
  4. Using HanziCraft to learn Chinese characters – A quick way of breaking down characters
  5. Chinese characters vs. Chinese words – What’s the difference? How do I look them up?
  6. The second round of Chinese character simplification – What characters would have looked like if simplification went further
  7. Improving reading speed in Chinese – Tips and tricks for second language learners
  8. Introduction to the tones in Mandarin Chinese – What you need to know about the four tones (plus the neutral tone)
  9. The fourth tone in Mandarin Chinese – Common problems and their remedies

Hacking the most difficult Chinese characters (with examples)
April, 2015 – Skritter

This blog post is about learning difficult characters and brings up three examples based on which characters Skritter users have most trouble with. They all happen to be semantic-phonetic compounds, so this further stresses the importance of understanding such characters.

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.

Chinese writing challenge, May 10th to May 31st

writingchallengeAfter having spent two challenges on input (listening in March, reading in April) it’s time to become more active this month and improve our writing ability. I started preparing a bit earlier this week by writing an article about one of the best methods I know for improving writing ability (Hone your Chinese writing ability by writing summaries), but that’s of course just one thing you can do during this challenge!

Hacking Chinese challenges is all about building language skills through daily practice and friendly competition. Each participate decides how he or she wants to participate, what to study and so on. When joining the challenge (see below), you will be asked to set a goal to be met by the end of the month. After that, you log how much time you spend learning each day. I launched Hacking Chinese Challenges partly because I think it’s great for increasing my motivation and staying focused. Join us!

Hacking Chinese writing challenge, May 10th to May 31st

This how you sign up and join the challenge:

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

Please note:  The challenge starts on May 10th (Sunday), so even if you join now, you won’t be able to report progress until then. I post this article today so you have a few days to prepare!

What should you write?

Anything you like, the important thing is that you practice and that you get feedback on your writing. I suggest using Lang-8 if you don’t have someone who can help you already. I have written a few posts already about solving different writing-related problems, so take a look at any of the following articles:

Setting a reasonable goal

Knowing what works for each individual learner is impossible, but you should try to set a goal which is as high as possible without feeling unreachable. If this is your first challenge or if you’re not sure what you’re capable of, go for 5-10 hours. If you know what you’re doing, you can aim for twice that. Personally, I’m going to go for 10 hours, which is roughly 30 minutes per day.

banner-6d4254dcd18e969ada6d74100a40a9de

Preliminary challenge schedule for 2015

To make sure that the challenges cover all major areas, I have created a rough schedule of what challenges will be on for the rest of the year. I might change this somewhat and insert more specific or unusual challenges here and there (if you have any ideas, please let me know). Challenges in italics are preliminary.

  1. January: Characters
  2. February: Pronunciation
  3. March: Listening
  4. April: Reading
  5. May: Writing
  6. June: Listening
  7. July: Speaking
  8. August: Reading
  9. September: Characters
  10. October: Listening
  11. November: Writing
  12. December: Reading

Articles by me published elsewhere: April 2015 round-up

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.

I have updated my bibliography accordingly, and here are all the new articles published before the start of April:

Various articles about Mandarin on About.com
March, 2015 – About.com

These articles were all published on About.com through my role as Mandarin expert writer there:

  1. Using graded readers to improve reading ability: Going beyond your textbook
  2. Getting a Chinese character tattoo: 7 do’s and don’ts to consider if you want a Chinese-character tattoo
  3. Chinese characters: A basic introduction
  4. Common Mandarin learner errors: part 6: Not enjoying yourself
  5. Common Mandarin learner errors: part 7: Not knowing where you’re going
  6. Useful idiomatic phrases in Chinese: Yi mu yi yang: Expressing that two things are identical
  7. Chinese characters and stroke order: Why you should make sure to write characters the right way
  8. Learning traditional Chinese with the MoE dictionary: The best online reference for traditional characters
  9. Correct pronunciation and stroke order in Chinese: What does “correct” mean? What’s the standard?

Understanding Chinese characters: Components and radicals
March, 2015 – Skritter

It’s common for beginners and sometimes even more advanced students to lack an understanding of how Chinese characters are structured. This includes misconceptions about radicals and other types of components. In this article, I address some of the misconceptions I have encountered as a teacher and as the “Chinese Guru” at Skritter. What different kinds of character components are there? What’s a radical?

Can you pronounce these Chinese words correctly?
March, 2015 – Skritter

This post contains five words in Mandarin that are tricky to pronounce correctly. Sometimes the standard pronunciation is different from how many natives speak, sometimes including people from Beijing! Do you know how to pronounce these words: 背包, 打烊, 尽快 (儘快), 下载 (下載), 一模一样 (一模一樣)?

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.

Chinese reading challenge, April 10th to April 30th

readingchallengeWhen I launched Hacking Chinese Challenges last year, I promised that I would make sure that if you participated in all challenges, you’d get a healthy mix of practice. Last month, we focused on listening, which I think is the most important skill when learning Chinese. We (87 participants) collectively spent 1255 hours improving our listening ability last month, that’s awesome!

The other input skill we need to focus on is reading. While not as important as listening, it’s still one of the core skills and the best way of expanding and consolidating vocabulary. In some regards, it’s easier than listening, but in other ways, it’s considerably harder.

In any case, learning to read in Chinese requires practice, and that’s what we’re going to focus on this month. As was the case for the listening challenge, I suggest you focus on quantity over quality, so don’t read texts that are too hard, focus on those at or slightly below your current level. You don’t need to understand everything, feel free to skip difficult words and/or use pop-up dictionaries.

Hacking Chinese reading challenge, April 10th to April 30th

This how you sign up and join the challenge:

  1. Sign up (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. Find suitable learning materials
  6. Report your progress on your computer or mobile device
  7. Check the graph to see if you’re on track to reaching your goal
  8. Check the leader board to see how you compare to others
  9. Share progress, tips and resources with fellow students

Please note:  The challenge starts on April 10th, so even if you can join now, you won’t be able to report progress until then. I post this article today so you have a few days to prepare and find suitable reading material!

What should you read?

Start by looking here:

  1. The 10 best free reading resource collections for learning Chinese – I wrote this article in connection with the previous challenge. It’s a collection of reading materials sorted by level.
  2. Hacking Chinese Resources The resource section of Hacking Chinese contains 87 resources tagged with “reading”. Many of them are resource collections, where you can find hundreds or even thousands of texts.

If you have other resources that aren’t shared here already, please leave a comment or contact me in any other way. If you want an invite for Hacking Chinese Resources so you can post your resources directly, just let me know. Just to be on the safe side, here are the basic recommendations I offered last time, sorted by proficiency level:

Beginner

Intermediate

Advanced

Setting a reasonable goal

Know what works for each individual learner is impossible, but you should try to set a goal which is as high as possible without feeling unreachable. If this is your first challenge or if you’re not sure what you’re capable of, go for 10 hours or so. If you know what you’re doing, you can aim for twice that. Personally, I’m going to aim for an hour a day, so 20 hours.

banner-6d4254dcd18e969ada6d74100a40a9de

Preliminary challenge schedule for 2015

To make sure that the challenges cover all major areas, I have created a rough schedule of what challenges will be on for the rest of the year. I might change this somewhat and insert more specific or unusual challenges here and there (if you have any ideas, please let me know). Challenges in italics are preliminary.

  1. January: Characters
  2. February: Pronunciation
  3. March: Listening
  4. April: Reading
  5. May: Writing
  6. June: Listening
  7. July: Speaking
  8. August: Reading
  9. September: Characters
  10. October: Listening
  11. November: Writing
  12. December: Reading

Chinese Hackers Hack Hacking Chinese*

这是来自保护中文神秘地位协会的一则重要信息。揭秘中文(Hacking Chinese)已经占据互联网多年,并且严重地威胁到了中文的神秘地位。因此,我们入侵并控制揭秘中文。作者理应受到惩罚,以下是他所犯下的三大罪状:

matrix第一、他将中文列为和其他语言一样的,可被外国人所理解的语言。他完全不了解中文其实是一种并不能被分解的奇幻艺术,一旦将汉字及其结构分解将是对这种古老而神秘的语言的亵渎。中文不仅是一种语言,更是中华文明的精髓,是神圣不可侵犯的。此项罪名是对神圣的亵渎。

第二、作者宣称只要追随其网站,外国人可以改进他们学习中文的方法。这可能会误导读者相信中文实际上是可以被学习的,这显然是错误的,并且这使得无知的外国人对他们的学习过于乐观。纵使有人帮助,跬步前行也难以至千里。此项罪名为虚伪事也。

第三、作者强调当今中文教育方法的失败,并称大部分的课程、老师和教科书并没有提供学习过程的关键。这完全是错误的,中文教育是完美的。外国人之所以屡屡失败的原因不是学习方法,而是学习中文根本就是徒劳的。对外汉语教学的目的是给外国人展示伟大的中华文明。宣称他掌握我们并不知道的中文教学方法犯下了他的第三项罪名:妄自尊大。

综上所述,此网站会立刻被实时监控。从现在开始,只有唐诗宋词八股骈文以及毛主席语录才会被允许发布。已发布文章将会作为罪证,被存档保留以警示后人。

致那些还在执着于学习中文的外国人:你们在浪费你们的时间。去 YouTube 上看那些搞笑视频或者去酒吧浪费人生吧!这里不是你们该来的地方。如果你们不能够迷途知返就回到你们老师和教科书的怀抱中吧!终其一生,你所能学到的也将只是对这种伟大而神秘的语言的永恒的谦卑。

This is an important protection of information from the Association of Chinese mystical status. Secret Chinese (Hacking Chinese) have occupied the Internet for many years, and a serious threat to the mystery of the status of Chinese. Therefore, we invade and control the Secret Chinese. Research should be punished, the following is what he committed three crimes:

First, he will be listed as the Chinese and other languages, and can be understood by foreign language. He did not understand Chinese can not be decomposed in fact a fantasy art, once the characters and structure decomposition would be on this ancient and mysterious language of blasphemy. Chinese is not only a language, it is the essence of Chinese civilization, is sacrosanct. This is a sacred blasphemy charges.

Second, as long as the author claims that follow its website, foreigners can improve their way of learning Chinese. This may mislead the reader to believe Chinese actually can be learned, and this is clearly wrong, and this makes them ignorant foreigners learning too optimistic. Even someone help, small steps forward is difficult to Trinidad. This counts for something too hypocritical.

Third, the authors emphasize the failure of today’s Chinese teaching methods, saying most of the curriculum, teachers and textbooks do not provide critical learning process. This is totally wrong, Chinese education is perfect. The reason why foreigners are not learning methods often fail, but to learn Chinese is simply futile. The purpose of foreign teaching Chinese to foreigners is a great showcase of Chinese civilization. He claimed that we do not know the Chinese master teaching methods committed his third crime: megalomania.

In summary, this site will soon be real-time monitoring. From now on, only stereotyped parallel prose and poetry will be allowed to publish Quotations from Chairman Mao. Published articles will be used as evidence, as a warning to future generations is archived reserved.

Caused by those who are still clinging to foreigners learning Chinese: You’re wasting your time. Go watch those funny YouTube video or go to the bar to waste life! This is not the place you should come. If you are not capable of mending their ways back to your teacher and textbooks to embrace it! Throughout his life, you can learn but will just be great and mysterious language and eternal humility.

April Fool’s Day: This article was posted as an April Fool’s hoax, Hacking Chinese is doing just fine. I have of course spoken about Hacking Chinese with many, many native speakers, teachers and normal people, and I have never had any bad reaction whatsoever. Most Chinese people find it interesting that foreigners are so interested in their language and care so much about how it can be taught to others. This article was produced by first writing a draft in English, then translating it to Chinese and then translating it back to English again using Google Translate. I only changed a few words in the final  English version to make some passages slightly more readable. I advice learners who aren’t advanced against trying ot read the Chinese, it’s much too difficult, and while fun in my opinion, not actually useful. Also check my April Fool’s hoax from 2013.

Articles by me published elsewhere: March 2015 round-up

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.

I have updated my bibliography accordingly, and here are all the new articles published before the start of March:

Various articles about Mandarin on About.com
February, 2015 – About.com

These articles were all published on About.com through my role as Mandarin expert writer there:

  1. HSK – Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi: The Chinese proficiency test
  2. Standardised Chinese proficiency tests: Why you should take HSK or TOCFL
  3. Preparing for HSK and TOCFL: What to study and what to avoid
  4. TOCFL – Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language: Taiwan’s standardised proficiency test
  5. Rice bowls of iron and gold: Talking about secure and highly favourable positions in Mandarin
  6. Simplified and traditional Chinese characters: Which should you learn? Does it matter?
  7. Learning Mandarin through language exchange: Tips and suggestions to make it work for you
  8. Common Mandarin learner errors, part 4: Failing to organise your learning
  9. Common Mandarin learner errors, part 5: Not making learning communicative

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.