Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Distinctively Chinese’ category

  1. Learning science in Chinese with 李永乐老师

    李永乐老师 is a science teacher who has published many hundreds of video lessons online, for free. While the fast speech and speedy handwriting are a bit daunting at first, this is an excellent way of learning about science in Chinese. This article introduces 李永乐老师’s videos, along with a number of tips and tricks for how to make them approachable for students who want to be able to deal with science in Chinese.

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  2. My best advice on how to learn Chinese characters

    This is an overview of how to learn Chinese characters, including understanding how they work, how to learn to read and write them, as well as how to remember the characters you have learnt. Tools and resources related to characters are also covered!

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  3. Learning the third tone in Mandarin Chinese

    The third tone in Mandarin is the most mispronounced of all. It’s an essentially low tone, but many learners are unaware of this, partly because the way the tone is taught is flawed. Don’t think of it as a falling-rising tone, just think of it as a low tone!

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  4. The most serious mistake students make when learning Mandarin pronunciation

    Learning to hear and say the sounds of Mandarin can be tricky, but it’s made much more difficult by the way many students go about it. By focusing on reading over listening, they are making themselves a big disservice!

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  5. 9 answers to questions about Pinyin and pronunciation

    Pronunciation is best learnt by listening attentively and mimicking, but it’s also necessary to be able to learn Pinyin properly. This article answers nine questions about Pinyin and Chinese pronunciation.

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  6. Are simplified characters really simpler to learn?

    Are simplified characters easier to learn? They have fewer strokes, but quicker to write doesn’t necessarily mean easier to learn! The simplified vs. traditional characters debate has been going on for a long time, mostly based on emotion. In this guest article, Ash Henson from Outlier Linguistics strives to add reason to the mix and answer the question of whether simplified characters are actually simpler to learn.

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  7. 7 mistakes I made when writing Chinese characters and what I learnt from them

    Learning Chinese characters is an ongoing challenge that never really goes away. Even after studying Chinese for more than a decade, I make mistakes and forget characters. In this article, I analyse seven mistakes I’ve made recently and share what I learnt from these mistakes.

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  8. Should you learn the names of the strokes in Chinese characters?

    Some teachers insist on teaching the names of the strokes that make up Chinese characters, but is learning them worthwhile? In general, the answer is no, but there are certain cases where learning the names of strokes makes sense!

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  9. How to not teach Chinese characters to beginners: A 12-step approach

    This is a guide for how to not teach Chinese characters, based on more than a decade of observing terrible teaching and worst practices. Which of these have you seen?

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  10. The key to unlocking your first semester of Chinese

    A new semester is around the corner and many people are setting out on their journeys to learn Chinese. This article summarises the most important advice that beginners should keep in mind, including what resources to use and how to learn characters and tones.

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