Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

One year of language challenges on Hacking Chinese

challenge1yearRoughly a year ago, I launched a new subsection of this website, called Hacking Chinese Challenges. In this article, I’d like to both evaluate the service and ask for your feedback.

Before I do that, however, let’s look at a brief introduction for those who aren’t familiar with Hacking Chinese Challenges. The tag line summarises the service pretty well:

Building language skills through daily practice and friendly competition!

In short, students (including myself) sign up for a challenge with a specific focus each month. That means setting a goal for how much time you think you ought to spend in that area for the duration of the challenge, then studying as much as you can and reporting progress on the site. Graphs show your progress and you can compare against other participants if you want, but you’re also free to ignore what the others do.

If you want to know more, please refer to the launch post:

Launching Hacking Chinese Challenges

I need your feedback

I created Hacking Chinese Challenges because I wanted to help people achieve their goals. I have some ideas for how to take the concept to the next stage, but since this isn’t just about my own learning, I really need your input to make this possible. What do you think about Hacking Chinese Challenges?

I have created a survey consisting of six questions that takes approximately five minutes to fill out. Would you please do that for me? The survey is included below, but in case it doesn’t load properly for you, please use this direct link instead.

Create your own user feedback survey

Evaluating Hacking Chinese Challenges

Please don’t continue reading before you fill out the survey; I’m interested in your unbiased opinion! I’m interested in what you have to say even if you haven’t participated in many challenges, perhaps even none yet.

Personally, I’m quite satisfied with how the challenges work. I get more done when there’s a challenge than I otherwise would have, and it motivates me to learn more.

I do tend to slack off a bit towards the end of challenges, meaning that I usually perform well the first half and then fail at the end because of inactivity. Does that mean that the challenges are too long? Perhaps, perhaps not! That’s one of the things I want to know more about through the survey above.

Another interesting question is the focus of the challenges. I have tried to make the challenges genuinely useful, meaning that more fun and crazy challenges have been left out in favour for good old listening and reading. Those skills are super important after all! Still, I think more variety would be a good idea.

Another issue I’ve thought about a lot is whether to continue using time as a measurement of progress or switch to some other unit (pages, characters or whatever). The reason I have chosen time so far is that it’s much easier and that it encourages you to really spend time. After all, it’s the number of hours you spend learning that counts, provided that you are doing what you should and not counting time you’re actually procrastinating. I think this is okay. It’s also the only way competition can be remotely fair.

The future of language challenges on Hacking Chinese

I will stick to the planned schedule for this year, so there will be writing this month (I will publish a post about that on Thursday) and then reading in December. You can sign up to those now if you want, though, just click the links. You can update your goal later if you want.

Then I intend to re-evaluate the service and see how it can be improved for 2016. I would like to expand to other languages too, since there’s no reason only Chinese learners can participate. If you have any other suggestions for the language challenges on Hacking Chinese, please contact me!

Do you want more practical exercises, audio versions of articles and Chinese translations? Check out my Patreon page!

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