Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Chinese listening challenge, September 2019

listening-challengeHacking Chinese Challenges are about building language skills through daily practice and friendly competition. By focusing on one specific area of learning over a limited period of time, you will be able to learn more!

I regard listening as the most important skill when learning Chinese. It has more positive carry-over to the other skills than anything else and improving listening ability also makes it much easier to socialise in Chinese. This is your chance to ramp up your Chinese listening practice!

Chinese listening challenge, September 2019

Join by following these steps:

  1. Sign-up (note: signing up via email doesn’t work; please use Twitter or Facebook)
  2. View current and upcoming challenges on the front page
  3. Join the 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 September 10th, so if you join before then, you won’t be able to report progress until the challenge starts.

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 116 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 some other way. Here are some recommendations:




How and why you should listen

I’ve written a lot about improving listening ability in Chinese. Most importantly, you should check my series about listening strategies:

Setting a reasonable goal

It’s hard to know what a reasonable goal is for you, but i think anyone who’s interested in joining should aim for at least ten hours of listening. That’s  about 30 minutes per day.

If this isn’t your first challenge or you spend a significant amount of your time learning Chinese, aim for at least twice that, i.e. twenty hours. That’s still “only” about an hour per day, which isn’t that much if you spread it out.

How high you want to go is up to you, but an hour per day on average is not ridiculous. In previous listening challenges, some participants have clocked over 100 hours in one month! Can you beat that?


Preliminary challenge schedule for 2019

This is the first challenge for 2019, and the goal is to run monthly challenges throughout the year. The length and focus of each challenge will vary a bit, but those of you familiar with the schedule from last year will not see any major changes.

Since I believe listening and reading are the most suitable skills for challenges like this one, there will be more of these than last year. In between each listening or reading challenge, we will focus on something else for one month.

Here’s a preliminary schedule for challenges in 2019.

  1. February: Listening
  2. March: Writing
  3. April: Reading
  4. May: Translation
  5. June: Listening
  6. July: Vocabulary
  7. August: Reading
  8. September: Listening
  9. October: Habit hacking
  10. November: Pronunciation
  11. December: Reading

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