Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Chinese reading challenge, April 10th to 30th

Chinese reading challengeReading is one of the most important skills when learning a language and one of the best ways to expand vocabulary and improve your 语感/語感, but many students go about it the wrong way.

The biggest mistake I see is that some students spend all their reading time on intensive reading, meaning that you read relatively difficult texts and try to understand everything. Advancing in your main textbook is one example of this. The total amount of text you see in Chinese is extremely limited.

What you ought to do in addition to that and in much larger quantities is to read texts that are at or below your current level. You need breadth. You need diversity. You need to solidify and become more familiar with what you know (or sort of know). You need to read more to gain fluency. It’s okay to skip words, it’s even desirable. You read to understand most of what’s going on, but not everything. Reading digitally can help a lot!

Hacking Chinese reading challenge, April 10th to April 10th

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 reading challenge
  4. Set a reasonable goal (30-60 minutes per day depending on your situation, plus some time during weekends perhaps)
  5. Find suitable learning materials (see below)
  6. Report your progress on your computer or mobile device
  7. Check the graph to see if you’re on track to reaching your goal
  8. Check the leader board to see how you compare to others
  9. Share progress, tips and resources with fellow students

Please note: The challenge starts on April 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 and find suitable reading material!

What should you read?

Start by looking here:

  1. The 10 best free reading resource collections for learning Chinese I wrote this article in connection with the previous challenge. It’s a collection of reading materials sorted by level.
  2. Hacking Chinese Resources The resource section of Hacking Chinese contains 85 resources tagged with “reading”. Many of them are resource collections where you can find hundreds or even thousands of texts.

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:




Your challenge: Setting a reasonable goal

Set a goal which is as high as possible without feeling unreachable. How much time do you normally spend on reading? For the duration of the challenge, I think it’s reasonable for part-time students to spend 30 minutes per day, which will mean roughly 10 hours over the entire challenge provided that you have no major events coming up that will take days away. Full-time students can aim for 15-20 hours or even more, depending on your needs.

My challenge

I’m currently reading several books at once in Chinese and haven’t really finished anything for a while. This month, I intend to finish 余华‘s 十个词汇里的中国 and perhaps also start rereading 刘慈欣’s 三体,which I read many years ago. I never finished the trilogy, though, so I want to reread the first part. I’m also reading 一半是火焰一半是海水 by 王朔. Lots of reading! Let’s see how far 20 hours gets me.


Preliminary challenge schedule for 2016

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: New Year
  2. February: Listening
  3. March: Vocabulary
  4. April: Reading (this month’s challenge)
  5. May: Writing
  6. June: Benchmarking
  7. July: Translation (to Chinese)
  8. August: Reading
  9. September: Mimicking
  10. October: Speaking
  11. November: Translation (from Chinese)
  12. December: Vocabulary


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  1. 雷凡卓 says:

    How do I report my progress???

    1. Olle Linge says:

      Just log-in to the challenge site, select the current challenge and then choose “report progress”. If you’re on mobile, it’s in the menu icon and if you’re on desktop, it’s in the top menu.

      1. Iván Alejandro De León Ayala says:

        Thank you very much

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