Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Distinctively Chinese’ category

  1. Standard pronunciation in Chinese and why you want it

    What should you learn if your friends and your teacher tell you different things? How should you navigate the space between standard pronunciation and regional accents? Standard pronunciation will help you communicate, but a regional accent might help you fit in.

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  2. Learning the neutral tone in Mandarin

    The neutral tone in Mandarin Chinese can be tricky to learn. How is it pronounced? Is it a fifth tone? And how do you know when it should be used?

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  3. Kickstart your learning with the Skritter Character Course

    What’s the best way to learn Chinese characters as a beginner? The Skritter character course is my best attempt at answering that question.

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  4. Hacking Chinese Podcast two-year anniversary Q&A

    This is a Q&A to mark the second anniversary of the Hacking Chinese Podcast! How do you stop translating in your head? Is it worthwhile to study a Pinyin chart? And how do you learn traditional characters after learning simplified?

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  5. How to learn Chinese characters as a beginner

    Whole books have been written about how the Chinese writing system works, and understanding how Chinese characters really work is a lifelong project, but what do you do as a beginner when asked to memorise a list of characters and words? Here are eight easy-to-follow strategies!

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  6. 7 ways to write Mandarin tones

    There are many ways of writing down the tones of Mandarin beyond the standard tone marks. Which are they and what pros and cons do they have for learners?

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  7. Do you have to learn to write Chinese characters by hand?

    Chinese characters are beautiful, but they take a long time to learn, especially if you want to be able to write by hand. But do you actually need handwriting? When might you be required to write by hand? And are there any other benefits with handwriting that might make it all worthwhile?

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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. 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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