Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Learning in class’ category Page 8

  1. Don’t just read about language learning methods, try them!

    When reading about ways of learning languages, it’s easy to just nod or shake one’s head in approval or dismissal. This is not enough if we want to master the art of learning a language. We need to identify the methods or ideas that have potential and actually try them. Only then can we know if they are helpful or not.

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  2. Language is communication, not only an abstract subject to study

    I won’t join the group of language bloggers who claim that classroom learning is meaningless, but I do believe there are good reasons to create links to the real world. Not only is this a motivational booster, it’s also an excellent way of identifying problems you might have with your Chinese.

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  3. Don’t try to improve everything at once, limit your focus

    When we learn, we can’t focus on everything at once. If we want to improve in a complex skill, simply practising that skill isn’t the most efficient way, we need to break it down and use target practice. For instance, focusing on improving pronunciation is too vague, but focusing on the fourth tone is more likely to yield positive results.

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  4. The importance of counting what counts when learning Chinese

    The way in which we count proficiency or progress have a huge impact on how we study. This is relevant for teachers and students alike. Teachers should strive towards counting (grading) what counts (is important); students should do likewise when assessing themselves and also be aware of what kind of consequences counting the wrong things can have.

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  5. Learn by exaggerating: Slow, then fast; big, then small

    If you want to speak or write quickly, you should start out by doing it slowly. Mimicking native speed early will just lead to sloppy language and bad communication. Expose your errors so that you have a chance to correct them.

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  6. If you want to master Chinese, make long-term investments

    It’s easy and perhaps natural to spend the minimum amount of effort to overcome a problem, but this will bring problems in the long run. If we want to reach long-term goals such as mastering Chinese, we need to adopt a long-term approach. What makes sense to pass your next exam isn’t necessarily what makes sense if you want to really learn what you’re studying.

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  7. Triggering quantum leaps in Chinese listening ability

    Listening ability is mostly a matter of practise, but the level of difficulty of the input also matters. My theory is that most people listen to Chinese that is too easy for them and would benefit from challenging themselves more, even if they spend the same amount of time practising listening ability.

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  8. Achieving the impossible by being inspired

    Teaching and inspiring are two closely related things. If you can see all superiors as sources of inspiration and knowledge, you will advance faster than if you view them as rivals or opponents. Similarly, realise that you have your own strong sides that inspire other people. Don’t hesitate to teach others if they want to be taught. Inspiration is cyclic in its nature and should flow freely in all directions.

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  9. What native speakers know and what they don’t

    What native speakers know and what they don't

    I’ve come a cross enough examples of people overstating the importance of being a native speaker to lead me to think that it’s a general trend and not an isolated phenomenon. This attitude is so bizarre it left me baffled the first few times, but I’ve come across this so often that it can no longer be dismissed as coincidence: people really seem to think that native speakers know everything, although it’s obvious that they don’t. This also means that most native speakers over-estimate their own language ability.

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  10. Making mistakes in Chinese is necessary to adjust your mental models

    Everybody knows that making mistakes is part of learning and that you have to live with it. Some of you might even have heard that mistakes are good, as long as they are genuine. Very few, however, live according to this maxim. In this article I talk about making mistakes and that a healthy attitude towards mistakes is of great importance when trying to learn Chinese.

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