Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Speaking’ category

  1. Mimicking native speakers as a way of learning Chinese

    Using Audacity to mimic native speakers

    Mimicking native speakers very closely is one of my favourite ways of learning a number of things, but mainly pronunciation and intonation. It’s also a good way of learning vocabulary and grammar. This article contains step-by-step instructions for how to mimic your way to the next level!

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  2. 7 kinds of tone problems and what to do about them


    Tones are tricky to learn and students often encounter many different kinds of problems. Since the solution to them are very different, it’s important to understand what the problem actually is before you try to do something about it!

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  3. Using voice messaging to practise Chinese speaking and listening

    voice messaging

    Voice messaging can be a powerful way to practise Chinese speaking and listening ability. It has several advantages for language learners, including the ability to record and listen more than once, as well as reducing the pressure that some learners feel when talking to native speakers the first few times.

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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. 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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  6. Learning to pronounce Mandarin with Pinyin, Zhuyin and IPA: Part 2


    Which transcription system should you use for Mandarin Chinese: Pinyin, Zhuyin or perhaps IPA? Which system you start out with isn’t extremely important, but if you care about pronunciation, it certainly helps to learn more than one system. In this article, I discuss the pros and cons of all three systems and offer some advice about learning pronunciation.

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  7. Learning to pronounce Mandarin with Pinyin, Zhuyin and IPA: Part 1


    Learning to pronounce Mandarin involves several steps. You need to first discriminate between and then identify the sounds, but you also need to be able to write them down and also be able to read how words are pronounced. In this article, I discuss this process and how you should go about it. It also contains advice for what to avoid!

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  8. 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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  9. Learning Chinese by playing Mahjong 麻將 (májiàng)

    Learnig Chinese by playing Mahjong

    Playing games is a wonderful way of learning Chinese and 麻將 (májiàng) is one of the simplest games around. Apart from the numbers 1-9, you only need a handful of extra words to play. The game is extremely popular and as such, it can open up many doors, both cultural and social.

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

    No English allowed?

    Is a Chinese-only rule good for learning? Most people agree that immersion is a good thing, but that’s not the same as saying that using no English is good

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