Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Learning in class’ category

  1. The illusion of advanced learning and what to do about it

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    How much Chinese will you know when you have finished a certain textbook? Less than you think! In this article, I discuss the danger of relying too much on one textbook series and the importance of broadening your knowledge rather than making it advanced in just a few, small areas.

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  2. Why you should learn Chinese in Chinese

    It’s helpful to use your native language to learn Chinese, but one of the first things you should do is to convert anything you use often in the learning process into Chinese. This includes common classroom expressions or other phrases used when learning. Advanced students will find challenges in Chinese-only learning materials and dictionaries.

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  3. Will a Chinese-only rule improve your learning?

    Are “Chinese only” rules good for learning? Most people agree that immersion is a good thing and that the more you practice, the faster you learn the language, but this isn’t necessarily the same as saying that using Chinese 100% of the time is good for you. This article brings up pros and cons about Chinese-only rules and then draws a conclusion.

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  4. Launching Hacking Chinese Resources

    “Resources” is a new section of Hacking Chinese that strives to provide you with resources for learning Chinese suitable to you. Everything is neatly tagged by difficulty level, topic/skill and type of resource, enabling you to find whatever you need, whenever you need it.

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  5. Why good feedback matters and how to get it

    Teachers give feedback in many different ways, some terribly bad, others very good. The bad ones let you struggle for hours just to correct your essay, not necessarily learning much on the way. The good ones not only allow you to correct your essay, you also feel that you’re learning a lot and won’t make the same mistakes again. This article sets down some guidelines for how to give good feedback, useful for both students and teachers.

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  6. Asking the experts: How to learn Chinese grammar

    How should we learn Chinese grammar? There are many, many different ways of approaching grammar, both from a theoretical point of view and from a practical, student perspective. Because this is such an interesting topic and there are so many different approaches, I decided to ask the expert panel and see what other language learners and teachers out there had to say about learning Chinese grammar. They have all answered the question in their own way, so rather than viewing this as a competition between different views on how to learn grammar, regard it as a tour through different available options.

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  7. Learning how to fish: Or, why it’s essential to know how to learn

    Learning how to learn is an essential skill for anyone who studies Chinese. It’s important even if you’re enrolled in a language program, because even though it might feel safe to have someone telling you what to do, that feeling is partly false. Only you can make sure that you’re learning what you need, so you’d better learn how to learn if you want to succeed!

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  8. Focusing on tone pairs to improve your Mandarin pronunciation

    When learning to pronounce tones in Chinese, it makes sense to focus on words rather than single syllables. Most words in Chinese are disyllabic and since practising these will also include to tone changes (sandhi), focusing on tone pairs is a very good idea. This article gives you all HSK and TOCFL words, sorted by tone! This is great both for students who need words to practise difficult combinations, but it’s also useful for teachers who need more words to practise these combinations.

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  9. Role-playing to learn more Chinese and avoid frustration

    Focusing on meaning rather than form is usually a good idea. It allows you to communicate as opposed to just do drills, which is only useful in limited doses. However, caring too much about what you want to say rather than how you do it will sometimes make you unable to say much at all. In these cases, role play! You don’t need to answer questions truthfully in class. Exploring questions from different perspectives will not only help you learn more, it’s more fun as well!

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  10. Drills and exercises aren’t only for beginners

    It’s commonplace to see workbooks used a lot in beginner courses, but the more advanced the students become, the less they are used. This is mostly for the better, but in this article, I argue that advanced students actually need more drilling than they (we) think. Being able to say or write what we want in one way isn’t enough, we need diversity and a bigger active vocabulary. Drilling is the only time-efficient way of achieving that.

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