Frequently asked questions

Will I learn to hand-write Chinese characters?


Hack Chinese focuses on recognition of characters and knowledge of their pronunciation.

While many people enjoy hand-writing Chinese characters, it takes a significantly longer time to learn than simply learning how to recognize them. We believe that for many people, the time saved by not learning to hand-draw characters is better spent reading, typing, or speaking.


On smartphones and computers, typing in Pinyin results in automatic conversion to characters (for example, type "ni hao" and 你好 appears).

Even when taking the HSK (China's official language proficiency exam) in China, students are asked to type in Pinyin and recognize characters, not hand-write them.

Can I become fluent in Mandarin using only Hack Chinese?


Language ability is the result of high-quality knowledge paired with high-quality practice.

Hack Chinese prepares you for high-quality practice by giving you high-quality knowledge.

Without high-quality knowledge, high-quality practice is challenging to achieve, because class time (or time spent reading or watching TV) must be spent making up for what the student could have done in advance: acquiring knowledge.

Is Hack Chinese only for advanced students?

Students need prior knowledge of Pinyin pronunciation to get the most out of Hack Chinese. (Typically, students learn Pinyin during the first few days in a classroom.)

Regardless of your current level, Hack Chinese is suitable for you if your ultimate goal is to progress to upper intermediate or beyond.

Do I need a tutor to use Hack Chinese?


Having said that, knowledge without practice is of uncertain value, so we highly recommend you practice with your knowledge daily: either by reading, watching television, or having conversations.

Many students link their online (or in-person) tutors, so they can receive targeted assistance where they need it most.

Why should I choose Hack Chinese instead of Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, or other apps designed to teach Chinese?

Despite the titles of their course packages (intermediate, advanced, etc.) most apps can only bring students to an "advanced beginner" stage. They teach the curriculum they created, but cannot incorporate anything learned elsewhere (i.e., words/concepts looked up on your own or acquired with a teacher).

Virtually all students who commit to becoming truly fluent in a foreign language will learn from a variety of sources: maybe starting with apps like the ones mentioned, then taking classes in a school, studying from several high-quality textbooks, hiring 1-on-1 tutors in person or online, listening to podcasts, and preparing for proficiency exams.

These are the ideal students for Hack Chinese. Our open-curriculum platform allows you to study any material you choose. As you are exposed to new concepts, you can immediately incorporate it into your long-term learning framework.

Why should I choose Hack Chinese instead of Anki, Quizlet, Memrise, or other "general-purpose" spaced-repetition apps?

"General purpose" spaced repetition apps are specifically designed to be generic enough to accommodate all types of knowledge, from history to science to foreign languages.

Hack Chinese is built from the ground up for a single knowledge domain: Mandarin Chinese. As a result, our platform is highly specialized and offers significant benefits to Mandarin learners that generic platforms will never be able to accommodate.

Why should I choose Hack Chinese instead of Skritter or Pleco?

Choose Skritter if you want to learn how to hand-write Chinese characters. Choose Pleco if you are reading difficult texts and need their extensive collection of dictionaries.

I'm enrolled in an oral Mandarin class that doesn't teach characters. Is Hack Chinese useful to me?


You can choose to study Pinyin only, without needing to know Chinese characters. But be realistic: sooner or later you will need to learn characters. Why not start now?

Hack Chinese teaches vocabulary... That's it?

Vocabulary is the most fundamental unit of language. Without a robust vocabulary, you cannot read, write, speak, or comprehend what is being said.

When you attempt to learn and practice at the same time, your practice time can become so hijacked with learning new words that you don't have time left to practice what you've learned.

Using spaced repetition, you will efficiently learn vocabulary (and some grammar) on your own. When you are ready to practice (by reading, watching TV, attending class, conversing with a teacher, etc.), you aren't distracted by knowledge gaps that slow your momentum and leave you frustrated. Have you ever tried to read a book where you had to look up a word in every sentence? How fun was that?

I've already used another spaced repetition app to study Chinese. Will I lose my progress if I start over with Hack Chinese?

Not entirely.

When you first log in, we'll ask you several questions about your study history. This helps us calibrate the system for you, so you can focus on new words right away, while slowly finding and eliminating any holes in assumed knowledge over the course of several months.

Is Hack Chinese available on the Apple or Android app stores?


Hack Chinese is a web application, meaning it runs in your browser on desktop and mobile devices. Being able to study on any device without needing to download an app helps you keep a daily habit.

Are there special offers for academic institutions?

Yes. Contact us for more details:

How can I access Hack Chinese?
Select language schools offer free or discounted access to Hack Chinese as part of your enrolment with their school. If your school does not provide access, you may suggest they get in touch with, or you may subscribe as an individual.
What does the free trial include?
The 7-day free trial includes all features available to the paid plans.
Do I need a credit card to sign up?
Signing up does not require a credit card. You'll only need it if you decide that Hack Chinese is the right solution for you, and decide to upgrade to a paid plan.

Start your free trial

Full access for 20 days.
No credit card needed.

Full access for 20 days.     No credit card needed.

/ month
billed annually
/ month
billed monthly
Hack Chinese is a professional tool. We aren't distracted with multiple languages or excessive gamification. Experience the difference.
Hack Chinese is a professional tool. We aren't distracted with multiple languages or excessive gamification. Experience the difference.
Prices listed are in USD.