Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Learning outside class’ category

  1. 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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  2. How to improve fluency in Chinese by playing word games

    What if I told you that there is a game that helps you speak Chinese more fluently, is great for improving communicative ability and works well regardless of your current level? What if I said that the game is also fun and free to play?

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  3. 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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  4. Chinese vocabulary challenge, December 2021

    It’s time for a vocabulary challenge! It starts on December 10th, so enrol, set your goal and learn as many characters and words as you can before the end of the month. This challenge is sponsored by Skritter, so there are also prizes on the line! This article contains more information about the challenge, some important things to keep in mind as well as some advice about learning Chinese characters and words.

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  5. The 7 best Chinese reading resources for beginners

    The best way to learn to read in Chinese is to read texts you can understand without constantly using a dictionary. As a beginner, such texts aren’t easy to find, but let’s have a look at the best reading resources I know for beginners.

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  6. Should you enrol in a Chinese course or are you better off learning on your own?

    Some people think enrolling in a course is the best way to learn Chinese, but others say that courses are useless, and swear by the effectiveness of self-studying. So should you enrol in a Chinese course or are you better off learning on your own?

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  7. Chinese reading challenge, March 2022

    It’s time for a reading challenge! It starts on March 10th, so enrol, set your goal and read as much as you can before the end of the month. This article contains more information about the challenge, some important things to keep in mind as well as some advice about improving reading ability in Chinese.

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  8. Why your Chinese isn’t as good as you think it ought to be

    Sooner or later, most students realise that their Chinese isn’t as good as they think it ought to be. Why is that and what can you do about it?

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  9. A smart method to discover problems with Mandarin sounds and tones

    It’s often hard to assess one’s own pronunciation when learning Mandarin. People around you might understand what you are saying, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your tones are good. Simply asking people if your pronunciation is good won’t work either, because they will often tell you that your pronunciation is good even if it’s not. So how can you find out how good your pronunciation really is?

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  10. The building blocks of Chinese, part 2: Basic characters, components and radicals

    Most Chinese characters are compounds consisting of two or more components, but some components are in themselves compounds that can be further broken down. But how do you know where to stop? And how do you learn and remember the most basic building blocks?

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