Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles published in April 2012

  1. Chinese listening strategies: Problem analysis

    Do you know why you don’t understand as much Chinese as you should/want/ought to? When solving a problem, the first step should always be to figure out what the problem is. Simply knowing that we don’t understand spoken Chinese at a certain level isn’t good enough, we need to know more than that if we want to improve. In this article, I discuss various ways of identifying and analysing problems with listening ability.

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  2. Chinese listening strategies: An introduction

    Listening ability is one of the cornerstones of language learning. Not only is it essential if we want to communicate with other people, it’s also necessary if we’re going to expose ourselves to natively produced language and learn from that. This is the introduction to a series of articles discussing listening ability.

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  3. Don’t try to improve everything at once, limit your focus

    When we learn, we can’t focus on everything at once. If we want to improve in a complex skill, simply practising that skill isn’t the most efficient way, we need to break it down and use target practice. For instance, focusing on improving pronunciation is too vague, but focusing on the fourth tone is more likely to yield positive results.

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  4. Review: The Phonology of Standard Chinese

    Duanmu San’s “The Phonology of Standard Chinese” is by far the best introduction to Mandarin phonology that I’m aware of. It’s mostly useful for people who like phonology or are already at an advanced level and want to add a theoretical edge. This book contains tons of interesting material, all well-presented and well-argued.

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  5. Chinese language question triage: General guidelines

    Studying languages, questions crop up all the time. What’s the difference between X and y? Why is sentence Z written in this way? In this article, I argue that how we handle these kinds of problems is dependent on what resources we have available (teachers, friends, etc.), but regardless of that, what matters most is how we choose to use the resources we have at our disposal. If we aren’t careful, we might end up wasting them or even losing them entirely.

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