Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Writing’ category

  1. Hone your Chinese writing ability by writing summaries


    Writing summaries is an excellent combination of reading and writing practice. It’s one of the most powerful learning activities I know when it comes to improving writing ability. In this article, I discuss how to improve writing ability in general, but with a clear focus on why and how writing summaries should be part of your study routine.

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  2. 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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  3. How knowing your best performance in Chinese can help you improve

    When learning Chinese, it’s important to know how good your best performance is, because this determines the way you study. If your best performance is good enough, you mostly need high-volume practice, more of the same will get you there. But if your best performance isn’t good enough, you need to change tactics and go for high-quality practice instead.

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  4. 5 tips to help you improve your Chinese writing ability

    How do you write a good text in Chinese? How do you translate to Chinese from your native language? This article contains five useful tips for learners who want to improve their translation and/or writing skills in Chinese. The tips are based on my own experience both as a student and teacher.

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  5. 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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  6. 7 ways of learning to write Chinese characters

    There are many ways of practising writing Chinese characters and they all have their pros and cons. In this article, I discuss seven different ways of practising and what advantages and disadvantages they have for you as a learner.

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  7. Handwriting Chinese characters: The minimum requirements

    This is a guide to handwriting Chinese characters. It’s not about writing beautifully, but writing correctly, including things like stroke placement, length and direction. There are numerous examples of handwritten characters (real examples, not typed characters) along with practical exercises to see if you have grasped the core ideas. The article goes somewhat beyond the bare minimum for beginners, but is certainly a must for anyone who cares about handwriting Chinese characters.

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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. How to learn Chinese characters as a beginner

    Writing Chinese characters for the first time can be very hard, mostly because it’s so different from writing letters. It feels more like drawing a picture than writing! This article is aimed at beginners and provides some essential tips, tricks and hacks for writing your first Chinese characters, making sure you avoid the worst mistakes.

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