Hacking Chinese

A better way of learning Mandarin

Tune in to the Hacking Chinese Podcast!

I have launched a podcast! Just like Hacking Chinese in general, it’s about how to learn Chinese. There are currently fourteen episodes available, including an audio version of this article:

Hacking Chinese PodcastYou can tune into the podcast through your favourite provider:

The podcast is distributed via Anchor.fm, so you can check out al the episodes there as well. If you like the podcast, please help me out by rating it and sharing it with other people who might be interested!

My goal with the podcast is to make it as easy as possible for you to access Hacking Chinese content. Personally, I have more time for listening than reading, and if you’re the same, I hope you’ll enjoy the podcast!

For the rest of you, I will of course continue writing articles as before.

What is the Hacking Chinese podcast about?

To begin with, the podcast consists of recorded versions of Hacking Chinese articles. I’ve been recording these for a long time now, but it’s rather difficult for people to find audio episodes. Instead of just listening them somewhere on the site, I thought a podcast would be a better way to reach a wider audience.

That being said, I also intend to talk about various topics related to learning and teaching Chinese with interesting people. Whom do you think I should talk to? And what topics do you think we should cover? Please leave a comment below!

I also have other ideas for content that would be suitable for podcast episodes, including talking about learning Chinese in Chinese, enabling you to increase both your listening ability and your study method at the same time. That kind of content takes more time to create than I have available at the moment, but it’s more than just an idea.

Why should I listen to the Hacking Chinese podcast?

Good question! Time is limited and considering that the podcast at least right now is in English, it’s reasonable to ask if listening to it is worthwhile. This question is similar to asking about the usefulness of Hacking Chinese, considering that most articles are in English.

I think the answer can be found in the language learning equation, which describes three key factors that determine how much you learn:

Content x Time x Method = Proficiency gain

If you want to read more about these factors, check out my article Three factors that decide how much Chinese you learn, but I will summarise the content here too.

Three factors that decide how much Chinese you learn

What you learn matters

Content, or what you learn, is obviously important. If we take vocabulary as an example, it’s clear that learning high frequency words leads to quicker proficiency development than learning low frequency words.

Learning some things, such as how to pronounce some radicals, will have almost zero impact on your Chinese proficiency, whereas learning important vocabulary for learning Chinese in Chinese is extremely important.

Thus, Hacking Chinese, including the podcast, is useful because I discuss what to focus on and what to stay away from. Here are a few example episodes:

How much time you spend matters even more

It goes without saying that how much time you spend is very important for how much you learn. If you only spend an hour a week learning Chinese, your progress will be slow, regardless what method you use and what content you focus on.

And if you spend all your waking time learning Chinese, you will of course make quick progress, even if your method is not the best and you waste some time learning things that later turn out to be useless.

If we were machines, we could just push a button that made us study eight hours a day, but we all know that getting things done, even things we sincerely want to do, is not that easy!

Thus, Hacking Chinese is worthwhile to read or listen to because I talk about how to increase the amount of time you spend learning the language.

There are currently two episodes that deal with this:

How you study can further boost your learning

Some people say that there are no shortcuts to learning Chinese.

This correct in the sense that there is no magic pill that will teach you the language without any required effort, but it’s also incorrect in that it makes it sound like all paths to your goal are equally hard.

This is absurd and obviously not true. Just like there are good and bad ways of getting stronger at the gym, there are good and bad ways of learning a language. Naturally, language learning is harder to measure than physical strength and is probably also more individual, but that doesn’t mean that all methods are equally good.

Learn more about this in Are there any shortcuts for learning Chinese?

Are there any shortcuts for learning Chinese?

In some cases, how you go about learning something can have a dramatic impact on how much you learn. For example, there’s ample evidence that using active recall and spaced repetition (such as using Skritter or Anki) is not just a little bit better than relying passive recognition and massed repetition (such as copying a character over and over), but several times more efficient.

Thus, reading or listening to Hacking Chinese can help you learn by accelerating your learning. Figuring out how to deal with Chinese characters or how to learn tones will not teach you characters and tones in itself, but making sure you do these things the right way will make it more likely that you succeed and that you will do so in less time.

Most podcast episodes and website articles deal with how to learn. The motto of this site is 授人以魚,不如授人以漁, after all. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

About opening doors and the paths beyond

That being said, it’s important to understand that reading or listening to Hacking Chinese is not a substitute for engaging with the language. I can help you choose content, explore ways of spending more time engaging with the content, and explain how to best learn it, but I can’t learn it for you.

I can show you the door. In fact, I can show you many doors, and I can compare them. I can even help you open the doors, but I can’t walk the path beyond them for you. I have of course walked many of these paths myself and have helped many others to do so already (I’ve been learning and teaching Chinese for well over a decade now, after all). My goal is to inform and inspire.

And this is the ultimate purpose of the Hacking Chinese Podcast: if I can inspire a few more students in their quest to learn Chinese, I’m happy. If I can inform students so they make the right decisions about their own learning, then it’s all been worthwhile.

Since I know my articles are long and numerous, maybe some of you will find the podcast easier to access, freeing up time to learn more Chinese, perhaps. So tune in to the Hacking Chinese Podcast! And if you like it, don’t forget to spread the word and leave a review on your favourite platform!

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I've been learning and teaching Chinese for more than a decade. My goal is to help you find a way of learning that works for you. Sign up to my newsletter for a 7-day crash course in how to learn, as well as weekly ideas for how to improve your learning!

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