Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Chinese listening challenge, March 10th to March 31st

listening-challengeWhen I launched Hacking Chinese Challenges last year, I promised that I would arrange the challenges in such a way that if you participated in all of them, you would get a healthy mix of different kinds of practice. Based on experience, I know that most students don’t spend enough time just reading or just listening. I don’t mean struggling through Chinese above your level, I mean sheer volume. Slightly below your level is preferable.

Upcoming challenges: Extensive listening and extensive reading

Therefore, it’s time for two basic but very important challenges:

  1. Extensive listening challenge, March 2015 (this article)
  2. Extensive reading challenge, April 2015

The last extensive listening challenge was held in October last year. 139 participants listened to almost 1000 hours of Chinese audio. I’m sure we can break that record this time! Here’s what you do to join:

  1. Sign-up (using your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter)
  2. View current and upcoming challenges on the front page
  3. Join the extensive listening challenge
  4. Set a reasonable goal (see below)
  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 March 10th, so even if you can join now, you won’t be able to report progress until then.

Extensive listening means that you should listen as much as you can. It’s the opposite of intensive listening where you try to understand everything, stop if you don’t understand something and listen for details. Extensive listening is about breadth, quantity and variety. You probably do intensive listening in class and in real conversations, but you probably don’t do extensive listening enough.

What should you listen to?

Start by looking here:

  1. The 10 best free listening resource collections for learning Chinese I wrote this article in connection with the previous challenge. It’s a collection of podcasts, radio shows and much more. Note that I have excluded any paid resources in this post.
  2. Hacking Chinese Resources The resource section of Hacking Chinese currently contains 86 resources tagged with “listening”. Many of them are resource collections, where you can find hundreds or even thousands of clips. First select your proficiency level and then listening.

If you have other resources that aren’t shared here already, please leave a comment or contact me in any other way. If you want an invite for Hacking Chinese Resources so you can post your resources directly, just let me know. Just to be on the safe side, here are the basic recommendations I offered last time, sorted by proficiency level:




Setting a reasonable goal

Know what works for each individual learner is impossible, but you should try to set a goal which is as high as possible without feeling unreachable. If this is your first challenge or if you’re not sure what you’re capable of, go for 10 hours or so. If you know what you’re doing, you can easily aim for twice or three times that much. The winner last time listened for 66 hours! Personally, I’m going to aim for an hour a day, so 20 hours. I have lots of other things I want to listen to that aren’t in Chinese.


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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One comment

  1. Dian says:

    This website has books, periodicals, children’s videos and a couple of movies that are available in Mandarin (also Cantonese and 200 other languages). Many have PDF. I like it for listening because I can follow along in print when I want. But if I am doing dishes or something I can start a whole book reading and I don’t have to keep stopping like with some podcasts which are only few minutes long. This site is by Jehovah’s Witnesses but it is a public site.
    http://www.jw.org look under publications and you can choose a language. Hope this is useful for someone. Everyone have fun on the challenge!

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