Learning Characters with Hack Chinese (Podcast)

One of the most daunting aspects of learning Chinese is the sheer number of characters required for basic literacy. It’s estimated that comfortably reading a newspaper requires around 3000 characters, whilst an educated native speaker will typically know in excess of 7000.

Memorising such a high number of characters is not an easy task but modern technology has made it easier than it once was. In the past, Mandarin learners had to rely on physical flashcards to review characters and commit them to memory but today a number of space repetition apps come with sophisticated algorithms which make the learning process more efficient.

Whilst these programmes have facilitated the learning process they are still far from ideal. SRS apps are typically not very user friendly and most of them are not tailored to learning Mandarin characters in particular.

On today’s podcast I talk with Daniel Nalesnik, a Chinese learner who got so tired of badly designed apps that he decided to to create a new system himself. Hack Chinese is a space repetition learning system designed specifically for Mandarin Chinese. According to Daniel, using the website for just 10-20 minutes per day to review vocabulary can help you grow and maintain a bank of thousands of characters.

I have been using Hack Chinese myself for several weeks, and I’m impressed with how user friendly and efficient it is. So I wanted to get Daniel on the podcast to discuss his insights into learning Chinese and motivations for designing his system.

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4 Thoughts

  1. Cliff Garstang says:

    I enjoyed listening to you and Daniel speak about Hack Chinese. I’ve been using it now for over a year and am finding it very useful. I love the fact that I can import vocabulary from various other learning tools that I use. Now I’m looking forward to exploring more on your blog. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Cliff 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the podcast and hope you find my blog useful! I’m also finding Hack Chinese really useful as I had more or less given up on space repetition before I discovered it.

  2. Hi Mischa, does the podcast match the content of this page?

    I was looking forward to the interview with Daniel, creator of Hack Chinese.
    About halfway through, I realised I might be listening to the wrong one.
    Andrew’s story is cool and might just have inspired me to backpack in China, but isn’t the content I came here for 😊

  3. Hi Remy, Thanks for bringing this to my attention. It appears the link I embedded to this page was the main podcast feed which updated each time I published a new podcast. For that reason it was displaying my more recent podcast interview with Andrew rather than Daniel. Sorry about that. I have now amended it so you can listen to the interview with Daniel embeded above.

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