Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Recent articles Page 46

  1. Goals and motivation for learning Chinese, part 1 – Introduction

    I think everybody knows that motivation is something you need to succeed at any task. I’m naturally going to assume that you are motivated to learn Chinese (otherwise, why are you reading this?), but that’s not going to be enough. Do you know why you want to learn Chinese? Are you the ambitious entrepreneur? The curious student? The involuntary learner? The Chinese culture aficionado? The linguistics nerd?

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  2. Diversify the way you learn Chinese

    For most people, the majority of studying time is spent on things that require large chunks of time, such as going to class, reading books or talking with friends. These are usually not activities you perform for five minutes and then switch to something else. However, it’s quite possible to spend a significant amount of time on studying without actually letting it encroach on any other things you’re currently doing.

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  3. Why you should use more than one Chinese textbook

    Why you should use more than one Chinese textbook

    Studying a foreign language in a classroom situation (which should be most of us, I think) typically depends on a series of textbooks. What I’m discussing here is the value of using additional textbooks as a resource for more comprehensive vocabulary learning.

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  4. What native speakers know and what they don’t

    What native speakers know and what they don't

    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.

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  5. Using search engines to study Chinese

    Studying on your own comes with certain problems I think all language learners have encountered many times. If you encounter a concept you don’t know how to say in the target language, you have to look it up. The first natural thing would be to look in a dictionary or a corpus, but some kinds of questions can’t be answered in this way. Asking a search engine is a very powerful but often neglected tool that I use on a daily basis.

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  6. Learning Chinese pronunciation as a beginner

    Learning to pronounce Chinese properly is one of the major obstacles for most learners. As a beginner, the task might seem daunting, but I’m convinced that with the right attitude, native-like pronunciation is achievable. The most important thing to do is to take responsibility for your own learning and adopt a correct attitude towards being taught. Focusing a little bit on the third tone doesn’t hurt either.

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  7. A smart method to discover problems with Chinese 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.

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  8. Anki, the best of spaced repetition software

    Of all the various websites and programs out there to help you learning Chinese, Anki is probably the most important one. There are numerous software to handle vocabulary learning, but in my experience, none of them are as versatile and dynamic as Anki.

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  9. Take responsibility for your language learning now

    You are the only one responsible for your own learning and if you let other people take responsibility for you, the results might be disastrous. This might sound obvious, but I think the problem is widely overlooked, especially by people who take language courses.

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  10. Pros and cons with travelling to learn a language

    It is often said that it’s very good to travel to learn languages. I don’t think this is true, at least not in the sense that most people believe. Travelling has some major language-learning benefits, but it’s far from a panacea.

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