Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

101 questions and answers about how to learn Chinese

As far as I know, this is the most comprehensive list of questions about how to learn Chinese available anywhere. Please note that it’s about how to learn the language, not questions about how to use certain words or grammar patterns. If you have questions about the language itself, please refer to this article: 5 websites to help answer your questions about Chinese.

For each question, I provide a short and direct answer whenever possible, as well as links to further information. Click on the question to see the answer. You can expand all questions (great if you want to search among all answers) and you can also collapse all questions. You can also expand each category below by clicking on it.

If you have a question not already covered here, you’re welcome to leave a comment and I will consider including it here!

1. Studying and learning Chinese in general

2. Chinese characters, words and grammar

3. Listening ability

4. Reading ability

5. Speaking ability

6. Writing ability (composition)

7. Managing your studies

8. About Hacking Chinese

  • What is Hacking Chinese?
    Hacking Chinese is a website focusing on how to learn Chinese. Most other resources focus on the language itself: the characters, the words, the grammar, and so on, but Hacking Chinese is about how to learn all these things. An overview can be found on the front page.
  • Hacking? What's that got do do with languages?
    Hacking is about understanding how language learning works and using that knowledge to your advantage. It’s about the constant search for a better way of learning. Language hacking is related to computer hacking in the shared values of resourcefulness, experimentation and optimisation, but of course involves nothing illegal or bad. Language hacking is good for everyone and completely safe, even if it might bring you into conflict with conservative teachers.
  • Why is Hacking Chinese called 揭密中文 in Chinese? My Chinese friend says it's not correct.
    The this website is of course carefully chosen to reflect the nature of the website. 中文 is chosen to be as inclusive as possible (all other alternatives are more limited). 揭密 was chosen over other variants (揭祕) because what I do here is more akin to decoding rather than revealing secrets. Also, 揭密 is the same in simplified and traditional, which is convenient! Note that the seal used for the logo is written from top to bottom, right to left.
  • Is your advice useful for learners of other Chinese dialects or even other languages?
    All articles are relevant for learners of Mandarin, a vast majority are useful even if you study a dialect other than Mandarin (but examples are usually in Mandarin), and many articles are useful for learning any language. In fact, many regular readers don’t even study Chinese!
  • How did you learn Chinese?
    I started learning Chinese in 2007 when I was 23. I have written a series of articles about my journey, starting here: How I Learnt Chinese, part 1: Where it all started.
  • What other projects are you working on, except Hacking Chinese?
    Primarily Skritter and WordSwing. Check them out if you haven’t already!

Tips and tricks for how to learn Chinese directly in your inbox

I've been learning and teaching Chinese for more than a decade. My goal is to help you find a way of learning that works for you. Sign up to my newsletter for a 7-day crash course in how to learn, as well as weekly ideas for how to improve your learning!


  1. Shengli Wuzima says:

    xiexie nin for thus wonderful jihui.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.