Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Distinctively Chinese’ category

  1. Learning tones in Mandarin is not optional

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    Learning tones in Mandarin is not optional. The longer you wait before paying attention to tones, the more you will have to relearn later. If you don’t know the tone, you don’t know the word. It takes time to learn to hear tones and treat them as integral parts of syllables, but the sooner you start, the better.

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  2. The Hacking Chinese tone training course

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    Learning to hear the difference between tones is difficult for many learners. Research shows that speaker variability and a systematic and predictable approach are key to overcoming the problem. With this article, I launch a tone training course, which is meant to provide you with just that. For free!

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  3. How to learn to hear the tones in Mandarin

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    Learning to hear the difference between tones in Mandarin can be difficult for adult learners. In this article, I introduce two effective ways of overcoming this problem, as well as my own research project, which is meant to help students and will be available soon.

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  4. How to verify that you use the right Chinese font

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    For second language learners, using the wrong font can make learning characters very confusing. In this article, I will help you verify that you have the right fonts installed and discuss what happens if you don’t. This is a follow-up to an earlier article about Chinese fonts for students.

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  5. Chinese character variants and fonts for language learners

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    Chinese character variants and regional font standards can be really confusing for language learners. As if simplified/traditional wasn’t enough, characters can look different depending on the font used or where the text was printed! This article will help you understand what’s going on.

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  6. Learning to pronounce Mandarin with Pinyin, Zhuyin and IPA: Part 3

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    As adults, understanding is important when learning pronunciation. One way to achieve this is through the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), which will allow you to see the sounds your ears might fail to hear. Learning IPA also means learning basic phonetics, and that will do you good in the long run!

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  7. The real challenge with learning Chinese characters

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    The real challenge when learning Chinese characters is not to commit a large number of them to memory, it’s to relate them to each other, including how they are used, how they are different and how they are similar. Creating such an interconnected web is a lifelong project.

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  8. About right and wrong when learning Chinese

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    What does it mean when something is said to be “correct” in Chinese? Who’s right if all the people around you say something, but the dictionary says something else? Mandarin is a huge language spoken my a very large number of people, so some variation is to be expected. This article is about the flexibility of Mandarin and how to deal with it as a student.

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  9. Learning Chinese characters through pictures

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    This article is about using pictures to learn Chinese characters. In order to learn characters efficiently, it’s important to understand how they work and what the building blocks are so that these can be used in other characters. Any pictures you use to remember should be based on this. Avoid using pictures that obscure the real meaning.

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  10. Panning: Keeping similar Chinese characters and words separate

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    The real challenge when learning Chinese characters and words isn’t to remember them, it’s to keep them separate from each other. This article concludes my series about zooming and panning to integrate your knowledge better.

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