Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Distinctively Chinese’ category Page 9

  1. Extending mnemonics: Tones and pronunciation

    Using mnemonics to memorise concrete objects is fairly easy, but how can we use mnemonics to remember abstract things such as tones and pronunciation? In this article, I expand my previous discussions of mnemonics and show how they can be quite powerful if you’re prepared to invest some extra time.

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  2. Kickstart your Chinese character learning with the 100 most common radicals

    This is a list of the 100 most common radicals among the 2000 most common characters, meaning that it’s excellent for beginners who want to boost their understanding of Chinese characters. The list contains simplified, traditional, variants, meaning, pronunciation, examples, helpful comments and colloquial names.

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  3. Review: The Phonology of Standard Chinese

    Duanmu San’s “The Phonology of Standard Chinese” is by far the best introduction to Mandarin phonology that I’m aware of. It’s mostly useful for people who like phonology or are already at an advanced level and want to add a theoretical edge. This book contains tons of interesting material, all well-presented and well-argued.

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  4. Understanding regionally accented Mandarin

    Learning to understand regionally accented Mandarin is essential. Very few people speak perfectly standard Mandarin and it’s your responsibility to understand what they’re saying, not theirs to speak so you understand. This article delves deeper into the whys and hows of learning regionally accented Mandarin.

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  5. Learning simplified and traditional Chinese

    Learning traditional characters if you know simplified or vice versa is a lot easier than beginners tend to think. Generally, you don’t need to worry, because at an advanced level, learning both is quite easy. This article is about simplified/traditional and how to learn both.

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  6. Learning the third tone in Chinese

    The third tone in Mandarin is an essentially low tone. The only time it’s pronounced with a high element is in front of another third tone (when it turns into a second tone) and sometimes when stressed.

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  7. Creating a powerful toolkit: Characters and words

    This is the second article in my series on creating a toolkit to enable efficient learning of words and this time the topic is individual characters. This article explains why individual characters are important to learn and there are links to other articles describing how to learn characters efficiently.

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  8. Creating a powerful toolkit: Individual Chinese characters

    Learning to read and write Chinese requires intimate knowledge not only of words, but also of individual characters. Without this knowledge, the building blocks of each word become meaningless, and, as we all know, learning something meaningful is always easier. Knowing individual characters is also essential if we want to be able to guess the meaning of new words, learn new words quickly or use mnemonics!

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  9. Creating a powerful toolkit: Character components

    If you plan to learn to read or write Chinese, you will need to learn parts of characters (components) and parts of words (characters). There are an untold number of combinations of these, and if you only study these it will be impossible. This would be a little bit like learning maths by studying thousands of examples, but never actually looking at the underlying equations.

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  10. Learning Chinese is easier than you think

    Natives and foreigners alike tend to spread the myth that Chinese is impossible to learn. This isn’t true. If you have the correct attitude and approach, Chinese isn’t all that difficult to learn, at least to a conversant level. This post is meant as encouragement for those of you who think or believe that Chinese is impossible to learn.

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