Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Chinese Speaking Challenge, July 10th to July 31st

talk-300x200According to most learners I’ve spoken with, speaking is the  most important skill. It is certainly the most obvious one and the skill used most often to casually assess your language level. It’s hard to show off your reading skills,  but your speaking ability is possible to gauge right after you open your month.

Speaking ability consists of many different parts and which you should focus on depends on your current situation. This month’s challenge is for anyone who wants to improve speaking ability, so I will first introduce the challenge and then talk more about what exactly you  should focus on.

The goal is to spend as much high-quality time as possible improving your speaking ability. Before I go into more details, though, let’s look at how you 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 pronunciation 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

If you want to know more about Hacking Chinese Challenges, I suggest you check out the introductory article I published when the section was launched.

How to improve your speaking ability

  1. Speak more – If you want to get fluent in Mandarin, you  need t o speak more. If you already live in a Chinese-speaking environment and speak Chinese daily, you probably shouldn’t focus on pure quantity, but for people studying Chinese in their home countries, increasing  volume is very important.
  2. Fix a known problem – If you have studied Chinese for a while and pay attention, you will probably have a number of problem areas you  know you should work on. It could be pronunciation, word order, modal particles or something. This is the time to work on one of these problems.
  3. Find  a problem – It’s very unlikely that your spoken Chinese is problem free. If you don’t know of any problems, you just  haven’t found them yet. Work with a native speaker, record yourself and try  to find systematic errors in your speaking. Then fix them.
  4. Mimic a native speaker –  If you don’t know what to do and just want an awesome way of improving speaking ability that works for all levels, find a short audio or video clip of a native speaker and try to record your own version. It should be as close to the original as possible. Focus on each phrase until you get it perfectly,  then record. This can take a long time,  so select a short clip, perhaps just a minute long.

My challenge

I’m going to go for the mimic option.  Since I’m still in China, I won’t start my challenge until I get back to Sweden next week. I’ll post more details about it later, probably by updating this article and mentioning it on social media.

Your challenge

How do you plan to improve your speaking ability? Choose at least one of the options, set a reasonable goal (5-15 hours depending on how much time you have and how ambitious you are) and get going!

Image credit: freeimages.com/profile/miamiamia

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