Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Beginner’ category

  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. Chinese vocabulary challenge, June 2021

    It’s time for a vocabulary challenge! It starts on June 10th, so enrol, set your goal and learn as many characters and words as you can before the end of the month. This challenge is sponsored by Skritter, so there are also prizes on the line! This article contains more information about the challenge, some important things to keep in mind as well as some advice about learning Chinese characters and words.

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  4. 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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  5. 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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  6. Hacking Chinese Pronunciation: Speaking with Confidence is now open!

    My pronunciation course is open for enrollment again! It was first launched in January, and after surveying students and making a few updates, I’m excited to open the doors again. The course is open for registration through Friday, May 14th.

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  7. Chinese listening challenge, May 2021

    It’s time for a listening challenge! It starts on May 10th, so enrol, set your goal and listen as much as you can before the end of the month. This article contains more information about the challenge, some important things to keep in mind as well as suggestions for what to listen to.

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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. Chinese input methods: A guide for second language learners

    There are many different input methods available for Chinese characters, including phonetic typing, non-phonetic typing, handwriting and speech recognition, but which method is best for people who study Chinese? And why?

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