Hacking Chinese: A Practical
Guide to Learning Mandarin


“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”


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Level up the way you learn Chinese
and get more out of your studying

Learning Chinese can be frustrating and difficult, partly because it’s very different from other languages.

Unique methods are required to learn efficiently:


Following a teacher, textbook or language course is not enough

Many courses and textbooks show you the characters, words and grammar you need to become proficient in Chinese, but they don’t teach you how to learn them!

Many teachers are native speakers who don’t truly know what it’s like to learn Chinese as an adult and won’t be able to help you either.

Much classroom practice I’ve seen is unsuitable for teaching non-native adults.

Regardless of what program you’re in (if any), you need to take responsibility for your own learning. If you don’t, you will miss many important things that aren’t included in the course you’re taking.

If you study independently, you need to be even more aware of what you need to do, what you’re doing at the moment and the difference between them.

It’s incredibly hard to know how to learn something best before you do it, but with hindsight, it’s possible to say what you should have done differently.



What students are saying about the course

As an intermediate Chinese learner, this course is super helpful. The book had me nodding at a heap of things I’d learnt the hard way, wishing I knew them when I started, as well as highlighting areas that I’m currently missing in my study. The videos are an added bonus, as they are pushing me to act on improving.

– Geoff van der Meer, VP engineering


The Hacking Chinese course is useful for all levels. It helped me change my outlook on learning the language as well as offering some practical tips for studying Chinese.

– Sharon Wong, translation student



This publication is like a bible for anyone serious about Chinese proficiency. It’s easy for anyone to read and written with scientific precision. And did I mention that the parallel video course is interactive? 9.8/10 points!

– Zachary Danz, foreign teacher, children’s theatre artist




The most important questions are left unanswered

Lookiphoncomppresng back at my own journey, I can clearly see many of the mistakes I made and how lack of understanding made learning harder than it needed to be.

Alas, I can’t go back in time to help myself, but I can help you!

Here are some of the questions I have asked and have since been asked many times by students:

  • How do I learn characters efficiently?
  • How do I get the most out of my course or teacher?
  • Which are the best learning tools and resources?
  • How can I become fluent in Mandarin?
  • How can I improve my pronunciation?
  • How do I learn successfully on my own?
  • How can I motivate myself to study more?
  • How can I fit learning Chinese into a busy schedule?checklist-photo

The answers I’ve found to these questions and many others form the core of this course. It took nine years of learning, researching, teaching and writing to figure these out.

Not everybody has the time to do that!



Built on a decade of learning and teaching

Hi! My name is Olle Linge. I started learning Chinese when I was 23. Since then, I have studied in many settings: serious immersion programs abroad, high-intensity programs at home, online courses, and on the side while working or studying other things.

I’ve also studied in a graduate program for teaching Chinese as a second language, taught entirely in Chinese mostly for native speakers, and have taught Chinese for many years, including courses in professional development for teachers.

I have a keen interest in study strategies and finding ways of maximising the gain students get from the time they invest in learning Chinese. I’ve written over a thousand articles about related topics over the years and have helped hundreds of students more directly through teaching and coaching. I don’t know everything there is to know about learning Chinese, but I dare say I’ve spent more time investigating the topic than most! You can read more about my professional background on my LinkedIn profile.

Learning how to learn Chinese

In this course, I want to share my solutions with you to help you learn better.

I want you to enjoy all the benefits without having to go through all the trouble of figuring out how to do these things on your own.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, some solutions were only visible in hindsight and would have been impossible to figure out before learning Mandarin to an advanced level.

Ideally, courses and textbooks should help you with these things, but after all these years of learning and teaching Chinese, it’s abundantly clear to me that they do not.

While courses and textbooks are good at giving you hundreds or thousands of things to memorise, they don’t focus on making you a better language learner.

They are still great tools, but they need to be used properly to have the desired effect. There are also many things that you need to know when you learn Chinese that aren’t even mentioned in textbooks.

A companion on your road to fluency

This course works for formal students and independent language learners alike. While this course covers all major areas of learning, you won’t learn Chinese by just following along.

It’s like when someone on TV teaches you how to cook: you won’t get to eat the delicious dish just by watching the program; you must cook yourself.

That’s true for this course as well. When you apply what you learn, it will boost your learning, making every hour you spend count for more, but you still have to do the learning yourself.

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The content is divided as follows:


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30-day money-back guarantee! More info below.


Money-back guarantee, no risk involved

Not sure if the course is suitable for you or if you will like the content? The course is built on thousands of hours of studying, teaching and researching how to learn and teach Chinese. I’m confident the course is good, but we’re all different, and what if it doesn’t work for you?

Don’t worry! I have a 30-day money-back guarantee, meaning if you enrol in the course and find that you don’t like it, I’ll give you your money back. After all, the goal is to help you improve how you learn, and if I can’t achieve that goal, I’ll return your money, no questions asked.

Honestly, though, I think you will look back at this a year from now and consider this an investment worth making. Learning how to learn is something you’ll benefit from for the rest of your life.

Frequently asked questions

What do I need to make full use of the course?

An open mind, an internet connection and a device capable of playing normal video.

I’m a beginner/intermediate/advanced student, is this course for me?

Yes! Beginners will find tons of helpful information and inspiration throughout the course. It will be a companion you can keep with you for years and refer to when you encounter problems with your learning. The course works for intermediate and advanced students as well since it focuses on how to learn, not actual language content. Most of the methods I talk about are equally applicable on all levels, those that are not are clearly labelled.

Why should I take this course about how to learn Chinese instead of studying more?

Good question! Taking this course is a long-term investment. If you have a test next week, you’ll be better off if you spend the time to learn characters, words and grammar. However, if you have a long-term goal of learning Chinese, the earlier you invest time and energy into figuring out how to learn, the more you will benefit. If you increase the efficiency of your learning now, each hour you then spend learning Chinese will count for more. In addition, if you’re not careful, you will miss many important things that simply aren’t covered by most courses, textbooks and teachers. Naturally, you shouldn’t just take this course; you must also study!

Why should I trust your advice, can’t I work these things out on my own?

You could, but it would take you many, many years of full-time studying and tens of thousands of dollars in course fees and learning materials. And by the time you figure out how to learn characters, tones or something else, you will already be an advanced learner who knows these things. You will be able to look back and see the error of your ways and what you should have done instead. This is exactly the situation I find myself in now. I wish I had known these things when I was still a beginner, intermediate or even advanced learner, not now when it’s already too late! The only thing that remains is to help other people along.

Is this course only for Mandarin Chinese or does it work for other dialects as well?

The reason I use Hacking Chinese instead of Hacking Mandarin is that most of what I talk about is relevant for Chinese in general. Thus, the course should work well for other dialects too. That being said, the course is primarily designed using examples from Mandarin since this is what I have studied and taught the most.

Can’t I just read about all your ideas on your website?

Yes and no. Yes because I have touched upon most of the topics in this course on the website itself. I invite you to check out the nearly 500 articles I’ve written so far about learning Chinese. However, 500 fragmented articles written over many years differ from a comprehensive course. This course ensures you don’t miss the forest for the trees; it helps you connect the dots. Also, the course offers both audio and video to help you improve the way you learn. I don’t expect you to have read the articles on the website so that any vital information will also appear in the course.

Zachary Danz summed up the difference between the website and the course quite well: “As someone who has followed Hacking Chinese for a long time, I couldn’t be happier – I feel like I have the full picture of the message Olle has for Chinese learners, whereas before it was scattered and incomplete.”

Is this course mostly about theory or is it practically applicable too?

This is not a long bullet-point list of things you should do to improve your learning. I don’t believe in such an approach for several reasons. First, learners and learner situations are different, so it’s necessary for you to understand why you should do what I advise you to do. Then you can determine what steps to take.

Second, I’ve found that simply telling people what to do doesn’t work. Most people don’t heed the advice and keep studying the way they’ve always done, even if they approve of the advice when it’s given. The only way is to convince you that I’m right. To make sure that you apply what I teach in the course, there are many calls to action and each video contains concrete exercises you’re supposed to complete and hand in. To put it briefly, the course is practical, but it also includes the theory necessary to motivate the calls to action.

I study traditional characters, will I be able to benefit fully from the course?

Yes, definitely. Since this course is about learning strategies and understanding enough about how Chinese works to learn effectively, characters are mainly used as examples. As far as possible, I have chosen characters that are the same in simplified and traditional Chinese. In cases where that’s not practical, I have chosen examples in simplified Chinese that should be easy to understand even if you have only studied traditional. Take a look at this picture from the video course, which is unusually heavy in characters. If you think that’s okay, then everything will be fine! And if, for some reason, it isn’t fine, you can always get your money back within 30 days.

How can I get in touch if I have more questions?

You can contact me directly at editor@hackingchinese.com.

A more detailed look at the course content

The course covers a wide range of topics:

You can also check this list of video episodes:

  1. Introducing the Video Course
  2. Plotting Your Learning Path
  3. Taking Responsibility for Your Own Learning
  4. Spending More Time Learning Chinese
  5. Learning the Building Blocks of Chinese
  6. Remembering is a Skill You Can Learn
  7. Learning to Write Chinese Characters
  8. Finding Problems with Listening Ability
  9. Creating Comprehensible Input
  10. Building Your Chinese Audio Library
  11. Focusing on the Process
  12. Improving Your Pronunciation
  13. Mimicking Native Speakers
  14. Getting Things Done
  15. Finding the Time to Learn More


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