Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Articles in the ‘Reading’ category

  1. Training your Chinese teacher, part 4: Writing ability

    Writing ability is largely determined by how much you read, but there are many areas where a teacher can help you through valuable feedback. This article looks at this process, discussing what activities to engage in and what role your teacher can play.

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  2. Should you learn to speak Chinese before you learn Chinese characters?

    The question of whether or not to delay learning Chinese characters in favour of the spoken language is an interesting one many arguments in favour of both approaches. For most people setting out on their Chinese learning journey, focusing on important aspects of the spoken language, such as pronunciation, is certainly more important than learning characters.

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  3. Learning Chinese words: When quantity beats quality

    Any teacher, student or researcher will agree that vocabulary is important, but how should you go about it? What’s the goal? This article argues that a common problem for learners of Chinese is that they spend too much time learning too few words, and that they would be better of aiming for quantity over quality in many cases.

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  4. When spaced repetition fails, and what to do about it

    Spaced repetition software, like Anki or Skritter, can boost your vocabulary learning significantly, but there are situations where it just isn’t enough. The idea is to delay each review as long as possible without forgetting, which leads to a great increase in efficiency. This sounds good in practice, but when it comes to learning languages, just being able to recall what something means often isn’t enough!

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  5. Text adventure games and how to use them in the Chinese language classroom

    Interactive text games work well for individual learners, but they are also excellent in a classroom setting. This article gives you everything you need as a teacher to play Escape! in your classroom. A Chinese version of this article is available as well.

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  6. How to figure out how good your Chinese is

    Figuring out how good your Chinese is can help you focus on the right areas and evaluate your learning methods. But language assessment is hard! This article describes how and why you should assess how good your Chinese is, and gives you tools and resources to do so.

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  7. 5 levels of understanding Chinese characters: Superficial forms to deep structure

    How much do you need to care about the actual composition and meaning of a Chinese character when learning it? In general, better understanding means it’s easier to learn, but is there a limit to how closely you should stick to actual etymology? This article explores the spectrum from using superficial images to real etymology from the perspective of a language learner.

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  8. How important is reading speed on tests like HSK and TOCFL?

    Reading speed is an issue on proficiency tests like HSK and TOCFL. But how much of a problem is it? How fast do you need to read? This article discusses the role of reading speed on proficiency exams.

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  9. How to look up Chinese characters you don’t know

    Looking up an unknown character in Chinese is much trickier than looking up unknown words in most other languages. This article discusses various ways of looking up Chinese characters, including paper dictionaries, handwriting input, OCR and more.

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  10. Can too much guidance make you learn less Chinese?

    Guidance and support can make learning Chinese easier, but could too much of it make it harder? This article discusses the downsides of receiving too much help and the benefits of engaging more with the Chinese language on your own, without having everything explained to you.

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