Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin


Typing or handwriting? Improve Chinese writing abilityIt’s important to improve Chinese writing ability, be it by hand or by computer. For the beginner, stroke order and character composition is a major problem, but for advanced learners, writing articles and improving accuracy becomes more important. Here are some other questions discussed in this category:

  • How do I learn to write Chinese characters?
  • How can I improve my writing ability?
  • Do I really have to write characters by hand?

If you you’re new to Hacking Chinese and want more general advice, please sign up for my free introduction course. I will summarise and introduce the most important things to keep in mind when learning Mandarin:

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Let’s look more at writing ability. I have selected a few articles I find extra important. For a complete list, check the bottom of this page.

  1. Creating a powerful toolkit: Character components – If you plan to learn to read or write Chinese, you will need to learn parts of characters (components) and parts of words (characters). There are an untold number of combinations of these, and if you only study these it will be impossible. This would be a little bit like learning maths by studying thousands of examples, but never actually looking at the underlying equations.
  2. Four different kinds of mistakes: Problem analysis – So, you’ve made a mistake, but do you know what kind of mistake it was? Perhaps it was the kind that you can safely ignore and just keep going, but it might also have been a very serious mistake you should spend time correcting. This article is about identifying and dealing with different kinds of mistakes.
  3. Learn by exaggerating: Slow, then fast; big, then small – If you want to speak or write quickly, you should start out by doing it slowly. Mimicking native speed early will just lead to sloppy language and bad communication. Expose your errors so that you have a chance to correct them.
  4. 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!
  5. Improving writing ability: Common problems and how to tackle them – Learning to write well in Chinese requires lots of practise, which presents us with a number of problems. How do we find suitable topics? How do we avoid performance anxiety? How can we benefit from the mistakes we will make? These are some questions I discuss in this article.
  6. When perfectionism becomes an obstacle to progress – Perfectionism is usually regarded as something positive, perhaps even necessary. Scoring 100% on an exam is good, isn’t it? No, it’s not. In this article, I explain why perfectionism is bad when learning a language. Aiming for 90% is far better than aiming for 100%. This is being smart, not lazy.

Here’s a list of all articles related to writing ability in some way: