Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Vocabulary’ category

  1. Chinese character challenge, September 10th to 30th

    Tang Dynasty copy of 新婦地黃湯帖 by 王獻之

    Let’s learn characters together! If you need to expand your knowledge of characters, fight you ever-increasing review queue or just learn more of them, this challenge is for you. Enrol, set a goal and learn as much as you can before the end of the month! Active participants can win prizes from Skritter.

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  2. Zooming in: The tools you need to break down and understand Chinese


    In order to learn efficiently, it’s important that you integrate you knowledge. This means being able to break down Chinese in order to understand it, but it also means looking at context and sorting out confusing cases. In this first article, I introduce tools for breaking Chinese down.

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  3. The 9 best Twitter feeds for learning Chinese

    Who should you follow on Twitter if you want to learn Chinese? There’s an increasing number of people who tweet excellent language content within the 140 character limit, often with pictures. This article contains a list of the 9 best ones, including a short intro and examples of what they tweet.

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  4. Learning Chinese by playing Mahjong 麻將 (májiàng)

    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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  5. A minimum-effort approach to writing Chinese characters by hand

    Learning to write Chinese characters by hand is time-consuming. If you don’t need to write beautifully or quickly, but still want to be able to write by hand, you need a solid strategy. In this article, I offer my minimum-effort approach to learning to write Chinese characters by hand. It involves reading, typing, spaced repetition and communicative writing.

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  6. How focusing on intent can help you learn Chinese characters

    What you intend to write is more important that what you actually write. With the right intent, more practice will take you far, but with the wrong intent, no amount of practice will help. Fortunately, a small mental trick can help you learn to write characters more effectively.

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  7. My best advice on learning Chinese characters

    This article contains an overview of how to learn Chinese characters, including understanding how they work, advice on how to learn how to write them and, finally, how to review in an efficient way.

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  8. Sensible character challenge, January 11th to 31st

    It’s time for the first challenge of 2015! I have a feeling I’m not the only one who has fallen behind on vocabulary learning and reviewing, so this month’s challenge will focus on learning and characters and words. There are prizes on offer and the challenge starts on the Sunday 11th.

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  9. Why you should think of characters in terms of functional components

    Learning about the structure of Chinese characters can help enormously when learning the language. This article is an in-depth look at functional components, i.e. parts of characters that give the whole character either its meaning or its sound. It’s also a discussion about why we really shouldn’t talk so much about radicals when learning Chinese.

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  10. Learning to write Chinese characters through communication

    How much of your character learning is done through communication? It should be a significant part, but I think this is very rare, both inside and outside classrooms. This article is about using communication to make character writing more fun, meaningful and effective.

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