Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Intermediate’ category

  1. How to learn to hear the tones in Mandarin


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


    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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  3. Chinese character variants and fonts for language learners


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


    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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  5. The real challenge with learning Chinese characters


    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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  6. Improving pronunciation beyond the basics


    Learning pronunciation beyond the basics is about knowing where you want to be and where you are now. Then you identify which problems keep you from reaching your goal, and solve them one by one in order of importance. This starts with high-quality practice where you learn to pronounce something correctly, then moves to high-quantity practice where you gradually decrease the effort needed to get it right. After a while, no effort will be required and you will have successfully improved your pronunciation!

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  7. Which words you should learn and where to find them


    When learning a language, it’s important to know many words, but it’s also important that you learn the right words. How do you know which words to learn? Where should you find those words? Note: This was written using only the 100 most used words to show how good it is to know the right words.

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  8. About right and wrong when learning Chinese


    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


    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


    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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