Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Chinese character challenge, September 10th to 30th

 Tang Dynasty copy of 新婦地黃湯帖 by 王獻之

Tang Dynasty copy of 新婦地黃湯帖 by 王獻之

Let’s learn characters together! If you need to expand your knowledge of characters, fight you ever-increasing review queue or just learn more of them, this challenge is for you.

In this post, I will introduce the challenge itself as well as some advice for how to learn characters, both for beginners and more advanced learners.

Hacking Chinese character challenge, September 10th to September 30th

This how you sign up and join the challenge:

  1. Sign up (using your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter)
  2. View current and upcoming challenges on the front page
  3. Join the character challenge
  4. Set a reasonable goal (perhaps 20-60 minutes per day)
  5. Report your progress on your computer or mobile device
  6. Check the graph to see if you’re on track to reaching your goal
  7. Check the leader board to see how you compare to others
  8. Share progress, tips and resources with fellow students

Please note: The challenge starts on September 10th, so even if you can join now, you won’t be able to report progress until then. I post this article today so you have a few days to prepare!

Prizes from Skritter

Among people who participate actively, three will receive coupons that will give you one month of Skritter time. You don’t need to use Skritter to be able to claim this, you just have to participate actively. This involves updating regularly and talking about it on social media.

Learning and/or reviewing Chinese characters

screenshot82This challenge is an opportunity to do what you know that you should do and have postponed for some time now. For me, that means tackling my Skritter queue. I have been busy with other things recently and have accumulated some 1600 reviews. That should be possible to get to zero by the end of the month. I also have a large number (~1000) starred words that I should deal with somehow (edit, update or delete).

What’ s your goal? Perhaps you are like me and just need to get y our reviewing under control, perhaps you just started learning Chinese and want to work your way through the 100 most common radicals. Or you have some completely different goal which is related to learning characters. Join the challenge and get it done!

Note that all characters still measure time, because it would be too hard to design a challenge system that could handle all imaginable kinds of goals. I set my goal to 15 hours, which I think will be enough to finish my goal. If you just want to set a goal measured in hours and avoid specific character targets, that’s cool.

How to learn Chinese characters

To help you get started, I have written an overview of how to learn characters. It includes information about how to understand characters, how to learn them and how to review them. You can read my advice here:

My best advice on learning Chinese characters



Preliminary challenge schedule for 2015

To make sure that the challenges cover all major areas, I have created a rough schedule of what challenges will be on for the rest of the year. I might change this somewhat and insert more specific or unusual challenges here and there (if you have any ideas, please let me know). Challenges in italics are preliminary.

  1. January: Characters
  2. February: Pronunciation
  3. March: Listening
  4. April: Reading
  5. May: Writing
  6. June: Listening
  7. July: Speaking
  8. August: Reading
  9. September: Characters
  10. October: Listening
  11. November: Writing
  12. December: Reading

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