Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Chinese writing challenge, May 10th to May 31st

writingchallengeAfter having spent two challenges on input (listening in March, reading in April) it’s time to become more active this month and improve our writing ability. I started preparing a bit earlier this week by writing an article about one of the best methods I know for improving writing ability (Hone your Chinese writing ability by writing summaries), but that’s of course just one thing you can do during this challenge!

Hacking Chinese challenges is all about building language skills through daily practice and friendly competition. Each participate decides how he or she wants to participate, what to study and so on. When joining the challenge (see below), you will be asked to set a goal to be met by the end of the month. After that, you log how much time you spend learning each day. I launched Hacking Chinese Challenges partly because I think it’s great for increasing my motivation and staying focused. Join us!

Hacking Chinese writing challenge, May 10th to May 31st

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 writing challenge
  4. Set a reasonable goal (see below)
  5. Find suitable learning materials
  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 (if you want)
  9. Share progress, tips and resources with fellow students

Please note:  The challenge starts on May 10th (Sunday), so even if you 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!

What should you write?

Anything you like, the important thing is that you practice and that you get feedback on your writing. I suggest using Lang-8 if you don’t have someone who can help you already. I have written a few posts already about solving different writing-related problems, so take a look at any of the following articles:

Setting a reasonable goal

Knowing 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 5-10 hours. If you know what you’re doing, you can aim for twice that. Personally, I’m going to go for 10 hours, which is roughly 30 minutes per day.


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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  1. Elena says:

    You will find people correcting you “notebook” entries also on Italki, together with other features, like language partners, tutors and teachers), articles, questions that will be answered, etc. I’ve been using it for years, and find it excellent.

    1. Olle Linge says:

      Hi! Thanks for the recommendation! I didn’t mean to say that Lang-8 is the only alternative, it just happens to be the one I’ve used the most for getting feedback on writing.

  2. Jason B. says:

    Whether or not one includes the time spent reading and processing feedback (e.g. from Lang-8) would make a huge difference in the amount of time recorded for this challenge. I am assuming that it is more fair and sensible to only include the time spent actually *writing* (since different people will spend wildly different amounts of time processing their feedback). But please do correct me if I’m wrong in that assumption.

    1. Olle Linge says:

      Hi! My intention was that everything that is spent improving your writing counts, which would include any feedback you get. I want to encourage people to care more about feedback and that’s part of the reason why I think it should count. Also, being fair isn’t the main point, i think, but setting reasonable goals is important. If you choose to include feedback processing, you can perhaps increase your goal a bit?

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