Hacking 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 (usually three weeks), 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. A poll I did earlier also strongly suggested that listening is actually the hardest part of learning Chinese.
This is your chance to ramp up your Chinese listening practice!
Chinese listening challenge, September 10-30, 2023
The previous record of most listening practice is more than six years old. In March 2015, 87 participants practised Chinese listening for a total of 1,255 hours. Can we beat it this time?
Join by following these steps:
- Sign-up (free)
- View current and upcoming challenges on the front page
- Find the listening challenge and click “Enroll!”
- Set a reasonable goal (see below)
- Report your progress on your computer or mobile device
- Check the graph to see if you’re on track to reaching your goal
- Check the leader board to see how you compare to others
- Share progress, tips and resources with fellow students
Please note: The challenge starts on the 10th, so even if you can join before then, you won’t be able to report progress until the challenge starts!
This month’s Chinese listening challenge: What should you listen to?
Here’s the index from that article (links go to my introduction of each resource):
If you’re a beginner, you might want to check this out as well: Beginner Chinese listening practice: What to listen to and how
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:
- Problem analysis
- Background listening
- Passive listening
- Active listening
- Listening speed
- Deliberate practice and i+2
I have also written a few articles about listening more, which is a challenge worthwhile taking seriously. It’s perfectly possible to fit a lot of listening into an already fairly busy life, but you have to use the right method and spend some time finding solutions that work:
- How to find more time to practise Chinese listening
- The simple trick I used to double the amount of Chinese I listen to
- Make sure listening practice isn’t a practical problem
- Why is listening in Chinese so hard?
If you want to dig deep into listening comprehension, check out my series Beyond tīng bu dǒng: A guide to Chinese listening comprehension, currently with four parts:
- Beyond tīng bu dǒng, part 1: A guide to Chinese listening comprehension
- Beyond tīng bu dǒng, part 2: From sound to meaning in Mandarin
- Beyond tīng bu dǒng, part 3: Using what you already know to aid listening comprehension in Chinese
- Beyond tīng bu dǒng, part 4: Learning to process spoken Mandarin quickly and effortlessly
- Beyond tīng bu dǒng, part 5: Becoming a better listener as a student of Chinese
Your challenge: Set a high but reachable 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 10 hours of listening. That’s about 20 minutes per day.
If this isn’t your first challenge or you spend a significant amount of your time learning Chinese, double or triple that, so twenty or thirty 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 doable for most people. In previous listening challenges, some participants have clocked over 100 hours in one month! Can you beat that? Post your goal in the comments below and let us know how you plan to achieve it!
Preliminary challenge schedule for 2023
Here is a preliminary list of challenges for 2023, but I’m always open for ideas. Based on user participation, surveys as well as my own opinion, reading and listening challenges are particularly helpful for a large number of people, followed by those focusing on vocabulary. These will recur more often throughout the year, with other, more specific challenges spread out in-between.
Challenges last for roughly three weeks. They always start on the 10th each month and last until the end of that month. Three weeks is enough to get a significant amount of studying done, but not so long that people lose focus. This also leaves ten days of breathing space between challenges.
- January: Listening
- February: Writing
- March: Reading
- April: Speaking
- May: Listening
- June: Vocabulary
- July: Reading
- August: Translation
- September: Listening
- October: Pronunciation
- November: Reading
- December: Vocabulary
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I've been learning and teaching Chinese for more than a decade. My goal is to help you find a way of learning that works for you. Sign up to my newsletter for a 7-day crash course in how to learn, as well as weekly ideas for how to improve your learning!