Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Expanding your Chinese with 一步一个脚印

The number of blogs introducing different parts of Chinese have exploded in recent years. Apart from companies involved in language education who want to present content to present and future customers, there are also many blogs focusing on vocabulary, grammar, culture and so on. Today I would like to introduce one of the best: 一步一个脚印, written by Carl Gene Fordham.


Expanding your Chinese with 一步一个脚印

My main reason for recommending 一步一个脚印 is the quantity and quality of material on offer. Where other blogs post an article about a few expressions, Carl writes articles such as 222 English Emotions Translated into Chinese and 250 Physical Verbs in English and Chinese. If had focused on becoming a translator instead of a teacher, I hope I would have produced a resource like 一步一个脚印.

Before I introduce my favourite topics from this blog, I should say that many of these posts are more suited for intermediate and advanced learners (hence “expanding” rather than “learning” in the title of this post). It should be fairly obvious which is which, though. If you’re a beginner, don’t spend too much time on 40 Terms Commonly Used in Chinese Academic Writing.

If you think Carl Gene Fordham sounds familiar, it might be because I interviewed him about learning Chinese through immersion about three years ago (read the article here).

Chinese expressions, glossaries and resources

Many articles on 一步一个脚印 deal with vocabulary and expressions of various kinds. While it’s seldom a good idea to just bulk add everything you see to your flashcard program, these posts are excellent resources for learning vocabulary in certain areas. Here are the categories you should check out:

And here are some of my favourite posts:

Translation and interpretation resources

Apart from collecting and introducing interesting expressions and vocabulary, Carl also offers a lot of other valuable resources, especially when it comes to translation and interpretation.

  • Speech interpretations where you are presented with a speech either in English or Chinese and asked to interpret it. Each post contains the speech itself (audio), along with a transcript and a suggested translation. This is good practice even if you don’t intend to ever work as an interpreter!
  • Mandarin-English dialogues, where two people speak in their native language and you’re supposed to translate for them (both ways). Audio, transcripts and suggested translations are included.

Even if it requires a very advanced level of Chinese and English, along with a lot of practising to be able to interpret any of this live, you can of course take your time. Download the audio files and pause as much as you want, or listen again if you need to.

Random Word Trivia

Finally, I’d like to recommend the ten or so posts called Random Word Trivia. These are basically quizzes where you get a clue and you’re supposed to guess both the Chinese and the English expression that fits the clue. Some of them are really hard, so this is not really for beginners or perhaps not even intermediate students either.


I wanted to write this post because 一步一个脚印 deserves a lot more attention than it seems to receive at present (I share things, but I seldom see other people doing so). There’s a ton of very useful material there, so check it out and spread the word!

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  1. Dhananjay says:

    Hi Olle!
    一步一个脚印 deserve the praise very well. I was just scrolling 222 English Emotions Translated into Chinese and I was amazed to find really useful expressions there. Some really startled me like 老样子,哭笑不得 etc. These are emotions I personally find very difficult to express in a conversation. Cheers!
    Thanks for the resourceful article.!?

  2. marco says:

    hi , iam so interested of Chinese language , I would like to get free tutution scholarship . please help me

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