Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles tagged with ‘Native speakers’

  1. Two reasons why pronunciation matters more than you think

    Good pronunciation matters, whether you like it or not. In general, students (and teachers) tend to stop caring about pronunciation much earlier than they should. You don’t need to aim for native-like pronunciation, but clear and easily-understood Chinese should be the goal of all students. In this article I present two arguments: one about the fact that pronunciation and communication are closely linked, one about how pronunciation reflects both you as a person and your other skills.

    Read →

  2. You might be too lazy to learn Chinese, but you’re not too old

    Children learn languages neither quickly nor effortlessly. Adults have several advantages that allow us to learn more efficiently. It’s true that children achieve better pronunciation and accent, but not mainly because they are children, but because adults don’t care enough, don’t receive enough feedback or don’t spend enough time. So, no, you’re not too old. You might be too lazy, too close-minded or too busy, but you’re definitely not too old.

    Read →

  3. The question you have to ask about your Chinese teacher or course

    The most important question you should ask yourself about your current teacher or course is what you won’t learn. Since this isn’t something most teachers and schools like to talk about, it’s typically something you need to figure out on your own. This article discusses this question from various angles, highlighting the importance of being aware of what you need to study on your own.

    Read →

  4. You shouldn’t walk the road to Chinese fluency alone

    The road to Chinese mastery is long, but fortunately, you don’t have to walk it alone. This article describes four different kinds of people and how they will help you to master Chinese: the local, the traveller, the supporter and the guide. They all have their different strengths and you should learn what they are in order to make the journey as smooth as possible.

    Read →

  5. You can’t learn Chinese characters by rote

    My conclusion after years of learning characters is that rote learning is useless. Spaced repetition software is good, but it’s still not enough. If adult foreigners are going to learn to write Chinese by hand, we really need another method. We need mnemonics, we need active processing, we need to quit rote learning and stop using SRS mechanically.

    Read →

  6. Using Lang-8 to improve your Chinese

    Learning a foreign language, most people lack proper feedback from native speakers. Even if we have friends and teachers, always having to ask for help isn’t very good. In this article, I explain how Lang-8 solves this problem for you. Useful for any language, not just Chinese!

    Read →

  7. Benchmarking progress to stay motivated

    When we set out to learn Chinese, everything we learn is new and we can feel that we improve for each day that goes by, for each time we are exposed to the language. We know this because, in relative terms, we’re learning so much. As we progress, this feeling weakens. In this article, I discuss benchmarking and how it can help us stay motivated.

    Read →

  8. Native speakers and native speakers

    I’ve come a cross enough examples of people overstating the importance of being a native speaker to lead me to think that it’s a general trend and not an isolated phenomenon. This attitude is so bizarre it left me baffled the first few times, but I’ve come across this so often that it can no longer be dismissed as coincidence: people really seem to think that native speakers know everything, although it’s obvious that they don’t. This also means that most native speakers over-estimate their own language ability.

    Read →

  9. A smart method to discover problems with tones

    Studying Chinese, it’s sometimes hard to assess the quality one’s own pronunciation. People in your surrounding might understand what you are saying, but how do you verify how clear your pronunciation is? In an ideal world, it would be easy, you could just ask a qualified teacher and given enough time it would be possible to figure out most of the pronunciation-related problems. However, you seldom have that option, so here I present a method to test your own pronunciation which is difficult to fool and has proven extremely useful in practice.

    Read →

  10. The virtues of language exchanges

    A language exchange is simply a relationship between two people who want to learn each other’s language. It is useful because it allows you to focus fully on language without having to worry that your ordinary friends think it’s taxing to be with you because you always ask so many questions.

    Read →