Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

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  1. Chinese language learning in the twenty-first century: Towards a digital ecosystem?

    Digital resources have made learning Chinese considerably easier than it used to be, but another problem has appeared: How can we make sense of and navigate the vast number of resources and find what’s best for us?

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  2. The benefits of using Wikipedia to look up words when learning Chinese

    Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a dictionary, but did you know that it can be better than a dictionary for looking up words when learning Chinese?

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  3. The new HSK 3.0 (2021): What you need to know

    On July 1st, 2021, a new Chinese proficiency standard takes effect. This will have big consequences for the HSK, the most widely used proficiency test for non-native speakers. What are these changes and what do they mean for you as a student?

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  4. Learning to understand regionally accented Mandarin

    As soon as you leave the classroom, you will notice that people don’t speak Chinese the way your teacher and textbook do. Why is that, and what can you do to learn to understand regionally accented Mandarin?

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  5. The importance of tones is inversely proportional to the predictability of what you say

    Tones in Mandarin carry roughly as much information as vowels do, but still some people insist that tones are not very important, or even that native speakers don’t really use tones. Why is that and what can we learn from digging deeper into this misconception?

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  6. Lost in transcription: Saylaw, Ice Island and Aristotle

    Names of people and places can be quite different in different languages, sometimes so different that it causes headaches for second language learners. Do you know the world’s best footballer, Saylaw? What about Yàlǐshìduōdé? Or are you lost in transcription too?

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  7. Chinese language logging, part 2: A healthy, balanced diet of Mandarin

    How do you balance your learning to make sure you get a healthy diet of Mandarin? Logging how much you listen, speak, read and write is easy, but are there better ways of doing it?

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  8. Chinese language logging, part 1: Why and how to track your progress

    How much time are you investing into learning Chinese? Or is it maybe better to talk about it using a unit other than time, such as how many books you’ve read? Are you reading more than you’re writing? Or is listening, speaking, reading and writing maybe the wrong labels to use?

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  9. What’s the difference between Chinese pronunciation and Pinyin? Does it matter?

    It’s not uncommon for both students and teachers to treat Chinese pronunciation and Pinyin as the same thing, but they are not, and thinking that they are can lead to certain problems.

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  10. Learning the second tone in Mandarin Chinese

    Many students of Chinese struggle with the third tone, but almost as many also have problems with the second tone. So how should the second tone be pronounced, and what are the most common learner errors?

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