Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Beginner’ category

  1. Should you learn Chinese vocabulary from lists?

    Many students rely heavily on lists to learn new characters and words in Chinese. This can be good, but there are also a number of problems you should be aware of. This article looks at some pros and cons with using vocabulary lists to learn Chinese.

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  2. Training and testing your ability to hear Mandarin sounds

    Learning to hear the sounds in a new language is a very important step, both to understand it and to pronounce it yourself. This article gives you methods and tools for training and testing your ability to hear the sounds of Mandarin.

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  3. Is it necessary to learn the stroke order of Chinese characters?

    Stroke order and direction can feel like something difficult and unnecessary for beginner Chinese students, but it is important that you get the order right from the start. Most teachers and textbooks will tell you that; this article explains why!

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  4. Get to know your own Chinese voice

    Recording yourself provides a convenient, enlightening and cheap way to improve your spoken Chinese, and what better to record than a diary? This article explores why you should record more and offers some suggestions for what to record.

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  5. Task based Chinese learning and teaching

    Task based language learning and teaching is built around working with tasks in the target language with a clear focus on meaning (communication). Focus on form should come after the task has been completed.

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  6. How long do you have to study Chinese to make it useful?

    Learning Chinese and other languages is always useful. The real question should be what it’s useful for and what you need to get there. Still, you will never wake up one day and just know that you’re done, there’s always more!

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  7. Learning (or not learning) Chinese slang

    Learning slang in Chinese can be fun, but it’s worth remembering that in most situations, it’s actually much less useful than more standard ways of expression. Slang is used in a limited context and changes quickly.

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  8. Playing Codenames to learn Chinese

    Codenames is one of my favourite games, and it also happens to be an excellent game for language learning! In this article, I suggest ways of playing it in Chines, along with a tool that generates grids of code words for direct use in the classroom or elsewhere!

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  9. How narrow listening and reading can help you learn Chinese

    Narrow listening and narrow reading involve limiting the scope of your input to lower the difficulty and allow for less stressful studying and larger quantity. By keeping some things constant, you allow for natural reviewing and make it much more likely that you enjoy what you’re reading or listening to.

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  10. Comprehension-based listening vs deep end immersion

    What works best for improving listening ability, graded content targeted at your specific level or deep-end immersion? The answer is that both approaches are necessary, but which you use depends a lot on practical considerations, as well as how much time and energy you have to invest.

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