Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Learning outside class’ category Page 18

  1. Benchmarking progress in Chinese to stay motivated

    When we set out to learn Chinese, everything we learn is new and we can feel that we improve for each day that goes by, for each time we are exposed to the language. We know this because, in relative terms, we’re learning so much. As we progress, this feeling weakens. In this article, I discuss benchmarking and how it can help us stay motivated.

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  2. How to find more time to practise Chinese listening

    When it comes to learning to understand spoken Chinese, there are few shortcuts. The more you listen, the more you will understand. But how can we fit more listening into our lives without cutting down too much on other things we do? In this article, I share some insights after spending thousands of hours listening to Chinese and other languages.

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  3. Improve your conversations by listening to the listener

    Listen o thelistener

    Listening to a dialogue, have you ever tried listening to the person who isn’t speaking? Try listening to the listener, it will teach you many small words and sounds that help you communicate.

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  4. Spaced repetition isn’t rote learning

    Spaced repetition might on the surface look like it’s rote learning, but I argue that it isn’t. Firstly, spaced repetition isn’t about learning as such. You’re supposed to use smarter methods to learn the words first and then simply review to keep the knowledge fresh. Secondly, spaced repetition won’t degenerate to rote learning if you are alert and avoid cramming of any kind.

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  5. You won’t learn Chinese simply by living abroad

    Some people seem to believe that living in a country is enough to learn the language spoken there. This is wrong, and it’s especially wrong if the language is Chinese. Becoming fluent in Chinese is the result of blood, sweat and tears, nothing less. Living abroad certainly helps, but it’s an opportunity most often wasted by students.

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  6. Why you should use more than one Chinese textbook

    Why you should use more than one Chinese textbook

    Studying a foreign language in a classroom situation (which should be most of us, I think) typically depends on a series of textbooks. What I’m discussing here is the value of using additional textbooks as a resource for more comprehensive vocabulary learning.

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  7. 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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  8. Using search engines to study Chinese

    Studying on your own comes with certain problems I think all language learners have encountered many times. If you encounter a concept you don’t know how to say in the target language, you have to look it up. The first natural thing would be to look in a dictionary or a corpus, but some kinds of questions can’t be answered in this way. Asking a search engine is a very powerful but often neglected tool that I use on a daily basis.

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  9. Learning Chinese pronunciation as a beginner

    Learning to pronounce Chinese properly is one of the major obstacles for most learners. As a beginner, the task might seem daunting, but I’m convinced that with the right attitude, native-like pronunciation is achievable. The most important thing to do is to take responsibility for your own learning and adopt a correct attitude towards being taught. Focusing a little bit on the third tone doesn’t hurt either.

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  10. A smart method to discover problems with Chinese tones

    Studying Chinese, it’s sometimes hard to assess the quality one’s own pronunciation. People in your surrounding might understand what you are saying, but how do you verify how clear your pronunciation is? In an ideal world, it would be easy, you could just ask a qualified teacher and given enough time it would be possible to figure out most of the pronunciation-related problems. However, you seldom have that option, so here I present a method to test your own pronunciation which is difficult to fool and has proven extremely useful in practice.

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