Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Beginner’ category

  1. The nine principles of learning (and the mistakes from failing to follow them)

    In 2014, Scott Young spent 100 days learning Chinese, after which he was able to speak freely on a wide range of topics, as well as pass HSK 4. Since then, he’s continued exploring effective learning and has now published a book called Ultralearning. He hasn’t abandoned Chinese, though, and in this article, he discusses nine important principles for effective learning and how they relate to studying Chinese.

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  2. Review: Mandarin Companion: Easy to read novels in Chinese

    Graded readers are an important step on your journey to becoming literate in Chinese. In this article, I review all books in the Mandarin Companion series, including both level 1 (300 characters) and level 2 (450 characters), as well as the new Breakthrough level (150 characters). These books are useful for both beginners (extra reading) and intermediate learners (extensive reading). In all, there’s roughly 100,000 characters worth of stories here, providing an effective and enjoyable way to learn to read Chinese.

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  3. 101 questions and answers about how to learn Chinese

    This is the biggest collections of questions and answer about how to learn Chinese anywhere. The questions are sorted into categories, and each question is answered briefly before links to further information is provided. If you have a question about how to learn Chinese, you’re very likely to find the answer here! If your question hasn’t been answered, please consider leaving a comment!

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  4. The most common Chinese words, characters and components for language learners and teachers

    When learning Chinese, it’s important not only to care about how you learn and how much time you spend, but also what you learn. By focusing on the most common words, characters and components, you make sure you get the most out of your studying. But which are the most common words, characters and components? This article collects frequency resources for language learners and teachers!

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  5. 7 things you were taught in Chinese class that are actually wrong

    Some things your Chinese teacher tells you or you read in your textbook are well-meant simplifications. This is okay, because the whole picture might be overly complicated and not very helpful. Some other things your Chinese teacher tells you or you read in your textbook are just wrong, though. This article lists seven examples of things that are often taught in Chinese class, but are actually incorrect.

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  6. How good is voice recognition for learning Chinese pronunciation?

    Speech recognition technology has developed rapidly and can now be relied on to correctly identify standardised and clear pronunciation in Mandarin. But can it be used to check your Mandarin pronunciation? Not necessarily. This article looks at how well speech recognition software deals with non-native and low-quality audio, focusing on the question if speech recognition is too lenient for pronunciation practice.

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  7. The cheapest and most convenient way to improve your spoken Chinese

    Speaking Chinese fluently requires a lot of practice. The best option is to talk with native speakers, preferably mixed with teachers who can help you improve and are better at adjusting their language to your level. But what if you don’t have a teacher and no native speakers are available? This article discusses why speaking to yourself can be a viable way of improving your speaking ability, including how to do it.

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  8. Using speech recognition to improve Chinese pronunciation, part 1

    Speech recognition technology has developed rapidly and can now be relied on to correctly identify standardised and clear pronunciation in Mandarin. But can it be used to check your Mandarin pronunciation? Not necessarily. There are two problems that need to be investigated to answer that question. This article looks at the first: If speech recognition is unable to identify what you say, does that mean that your pronunciation is bad, or could it be the speech recognition that isn’t good enough?

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  9. Training your Chinese teacher, part 2: Speaking ability

    Finding a good Chinese teacher is not easy, but there are many things you can do to get more out of the time you spend with your teacher. In the second article in this series, I discuss focusing on speaking ability with a teacher, including what to look for in a good teacher, common problems and how to tackle them, along with some suggestions for more advanced learners.

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  10. The beginner’s guide to Chinese translation

    Translation from you native language to Chinese is not easy. The most serious problem for many beginners is that they stay too close to the original, which leads to incorrect word order in Chinese. This article presents a method for beginners and lower intermediate students, designed to avoid this problem and improve your translations.

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