Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Hacking Chinese 2012/2013: What was and what will be

2013 has already been here for several weeks, but because of the sensible character learning challenge, I didn’t have time to post an article discussing the past and future of this website. Better late than never, they say, so here it is. In this article I will share some thoughts about what happened in 2012, but I will also talk about my plans for 2013. As usual, I appreciate feedback.

  • What did you think of Hacking Chinese in 2012?
  • What do you expect from Hacking Chinese in 2013?

FireworksHacking Chinese in 2012

Last year, I did set some vague goals for 2012, but in retrospect, few of them were carefully thought out and they reflect my thinking at the time of writing rather than serious plans. Quite a few things have happened during 2012, though:

My personal top ten articles from 2012

  1. A guide to Pinyin traps and pitfalls
  2. The time barrel: Or why you have more time than you think
  3. Listening strategies: Problem analysis
  4. Listening strategies: Improving listening speed
  5. A language learner’s guide to reading comics in Chinese
  6. Learning Chinese with StarCraft 2
  7. Recording yourself to improve speaking ability
  8. Don’t try to improve everything at once, limit your focus
  9. The importance of counting what counts
  10. Learning Chinese in the shower with me

Hacking Chinese in 2013

To begin with, my plan is to keep on roughly like I have before. As long as both you and I are happy with that, I see no reason to change the spirit of Hacking Chinese. Thus, I’m not likely to stop doing things I have been doing up until now. I will, however, expand Hacking Chinese and try to make the website part of my long-term plans.

I’m not sure readers realise how much time I invest, but I can tell you that it will be impossible to keep this up forever without receiving something in return. Rather than focusing less on Hacking Chinese, I will try to focus more and see if you are willing to support me.

Here are a few things I will do in 2013:

  • Write two e-books – I have detailed plans for two books which should definitely be published in 2013, hopefully before the summer. If you want to get in on the discussion, you can join the feedback mailing list here. The first book will focus on overcoming common problems when learning Chinese, the second will have a slightly broader focus and look at language hacking and how to get the most of the time you invest.
  • Chinese Guild – I’m working with something seriously awesome with Jacob Gill (iLearnMandarin) and Niel de la Rouviere (Confused Laowai). I’m not going to tell you much about it now, but if you look at our different areas of expertise, I think you might be able to guess. More information will be available shortly, stay tuned.
  • Hire me – Even though I have never advertised for it, learners sometimes ask me for more ambitious language coaching or other services related to Chinese learning. Since this is what I plan to do in the future, I’m going to keep on experimenting with this in 2013. If you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know!

Of course, a year is a very long time and it’s hard (impossible) to predict what’s going to happen. The three things above will be fairly important  and will definitely be carried out, but apart from this, who knows? I’ve always believed in the opportunity cloud. I keep both my eyes and mind open for new ideas and opportunities.

Thank you!

As I mentioned earlier, I have poured hundreds of hours into Hacking Chinese during 2012. Do you know why I did it? Mostly because of the great feedback that keeps streaming in. It seems like most people like what I write and find it helpful. That makes writing worthwhile. Recently, I’ve also realised that I have the potential to inspire people, which might be even more powerful. Exactly how I will develop this in the future remains to be seen, but for now let it suffice to say a big thank you to all readers!


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  1. Sara K. says:

    Heh, you’re just in time for the end of the year of the Dragon / beginning of the year of the snake. So, in a way, you haven’t missed the new year.

  2. Julien Leyre says:

    Hey Olle,
    That’s a good opportunity to say I’ve been really enjoying your blog! I’ve been reading it for the last 6 months, and looking forward to new posts. I’m a polyglot, language fan and language teacher myself, and I’ve rarely found such a clear and intelligent articulation of language learning problems as your blog provides. You’ve created a really valuable resource by putting all of this into writing, so thank you!

  3. Matthias says:

    Awesome! Can’t wait for the thing that you and the others are coding. I’m a Chinese addicted amateur coder with an idea of what kind of homepage to develop myself, so I’m really excited to see what you’ll come up with. Any what so ever vague release date to announce? Great blog, by the way! I’ve been reading for quite some time, and in fact it’s the only blog about learning Chinese I visit regularly.

    1. Olle Linge says:

      Hi, thank you for your interest! I don’t want to say anything about launch date at the moment, but there should be considerably more information out within a few weeks. I might not do it publicly, though, so if you want to be sure you’re not missing anything, you should sign up for the newsletter.

  4. gavin says:

    just want to say thanks a lot for all your work on the site. I just found it a few weeks ago, but it has definitely influenced the way I learn characters, in particular (especially regarding use of mnemonics) and been very thought-provoking in many different ways.

  5. George says:

    I am an expat that has lived in Taiwan since 1994 and discovered Hacking Chinese just a month or so ago when I decided once again to improve my Chinese language skills.

    It is excellent as it reminds me to stay engaged and stay curious about both the visual and the phonological.

    Presently I am concerned with overcoming what is typically a ‘beginner’s mindset’ and that is trying merely to associate meaning on a one-to-one relationship.

    For instance a character like ‘zhong4’ represents ‘heavy’, but it also can represent ‘again’ or ‘repeat’ in a different context, and in the second context has different pronunciation ‘chong2’.

    So one has to keep engaged in reviewing what they know and need to add to their knowledge. I still use ‘Reading and Writing Chinese’ by McNaughton and Li Ying after being at this for 20 or so years. It is well written, each to carry, and has about 2000 characters.

  6. Leinuo says:

    Your blog is excellent. You can clearly capitalize on the excellent and profound work you’ve been doing to launch products such as ebooks/apps/hire me gigs. Your commitment to quality reflected in each and every post speaks for itself – I am pretty sure you will manage to produce an excellent and popular ebook on your first try. Best of luck!

  7. eloper says:

    I guess 2014 you’ll be going down the path of alljapaneseallthetime.com! Just don’t paywall everything 😀 Its a great site.

    1. Olle Linge says:

      No, I won’t do that. I might charge for additional services, but what I’m offering for free now will always be free.

  8. Joy says:

    I’ve found your website to be hugely helpful. I’m still working hard on the challenge. Excited to see what you’ve got for 2013!

  9. Vidarba says:

    Kudos to you for your project with this site. It’s a great resource for reflections, tips and strategies on learning the language. I’m a beginner, and kind of struggling with establishing good study routines (learning Chinese besides unrelated full-time job, trying to find time in evenings, listening to podcasts on subway, etc). So for me your thoughts on strategies for more efficient learning are especially interesting. Will continue to follow this site in 2013 for sure!

  10. Georges says:

    Hi Olle,

    Great to hear about your future plans. Your info is very helpful and it keeps us going, when the though gets rough.
    We are looking forward to the E-books.
    Keep on going Olle.


    1. Olle Linge says:

      Thanks! 🙂

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