Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Distinctively Chinese’ category

  1. Are authentic texts good for learning Chinese or is graded content better?

    Authentic texts not written specifically for second language learners are rich, varied, interesting and engaging, but they can also be terribly difficult and confusing. Should you use such texts for learning Chinese, or are you better off using content tailored to language learners?

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  2. How to learn Chinese pronunciation as a beginner

    Pronunciation is an important, yet often neglected part of learning Chinese. The earlier you get the sounds and tones down, the better, but how should you approach learning these things as a beginner?

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  3. Learning Classical Chinese is for everyone (no, seriously!)

    Classical Chinese is something all learners will encounter, whether it’s because it’s part of a course you take, because you’ve started learning formal, written Chinese or simply because you want to read the Art of War, the Analects or Tang poetry. How can you learn Classical Chinese and what resources should you use?

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  4. A guide to Pinyin traps and pitfalls: Learning Mandarin pronunciation

    When learning to pronounce Mandarin, you need to learn both the sounds and how they are written, usually with Pinyin. Did you know that many student errors actually come from a poor understanding of Pinyin, rather than the sounds themselves being difficult? Welcome to my guide to Pinyin traps and pitfalls.

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  5. The building blocks of Chinese, part 6: Learning and remembering compound words

    Compound words in Chinese can look confusing at first, but once you see the patterns, learning and remembering them becomes much easier.

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  6. The building blocks of Chinese, part 5: Making sense of Chinese words

    How many characters do you need to know to be able to read Chinese? The truth is that characters only provide a foundation, so regardless of how many you know, you won’t be able to read much unless you also know many words.

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  7. Why spaced repetition software is uniquely well suited to learning Chinese characters

    While spaced repetition software can be very useful, it also has some serious drawbacks. Fortunately, most of them don’t apply to learning to write Chinese characters!

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  8. 6 challenges students face when learning to read Chinese and how to overcome them

    Learning to read Chinese comes with several challenges, some of them unique to Chinese. What are these challenges, what do they mean for you as a student and how can you overcome them?

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  9. The building blocks of Chinese, part 4: Learning and remembering compound characters

    The key to learning Chinese compound characters is to learn the building blocks and how they fit together, including both the function of each component and the structure of the compound. Add some clever memory techniques and you’ll be able to dramatically increase the speed and efficiency of your learning!

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  10. The building blocks of Chinese, part 3: Compound characters

    A vast majority of Chinese characters are compounds, and understanding how the components fit together and which function they have, will make learning and remembering characters a lot easier. This article explains the most important types of compounds you’ll encounter and how you can use that knowledge to learn characters more easily.

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