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Frequently asked questions

What will you do with my email address?

Handle it with care. We will never sell or give away your email address.

We will send you high-value emails based on your in-app activity that we think will enhance your results, but you can turn these off.

How many words can I expect to learn each month?

In 2020, users who spent 25 minutes per day studying with Hack Chinese learned ~320-672 words each month.

Of course, results vary. If you spend less time each day, or study less than once per day, you will learn less. If you spend more time, you will learn more.

The most number of words we've seen learned in one month is 2,142.

The most number of words we've seen learned in one year is 10,519.

I already know many Chinese words. Must I start over with Hack Chinese?

No. The first thing we do is estimate your current vocabulary, so we can immediately teach you words that are probably new to you.

Over time, we will go back and double-check everything we assumed you knew, to make sure you don't have any gaps in your knowledge.

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

Read this answer carefully.

All languages (including Mandarin) have a lot more vocabulary than grammar rules. And it's not even close. For every grammar pattern there is to learn, there are 1,000+ words.

Which is why most polyglots (people who have learned multiple languages) agree: the stronger your vocabulary, the easier all other types of language learning becomes.

Hack Chinese aims to be the best tool available anywhere to increase your Mandarin Chinese vocabulary.

Can I become fluent in Mandarin using only Hack Chinese?


Fluency is the result of knowledge and practice.

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

With a weak vocabulary, much of your time in class or studying on your own is spent learning new words. But when your vocabulary is strong, you can elevate your attention to grammar, speaking, listening, etc.

Is Hack Chinese suitable for me at my current level?

Students need prior knowledge of Pinyin pronunciation.

If you're an absolute beginner, you will probably want to spend a week or two learning Pinyin and basic pronunciation, and then return to Hack Chinese.

Regardless of your current Mandarin ability, Hack Chinese will systematically increase your knowledge, day after day.

Beginners are often surprised by how quickly they feel confident with the words in their textbooks and proficiency exams, while more advanced students usually get excited about having an effective way to break through the "intermediate plateau".

Will I learn to hand-write Chinese characters?


Hack Chinese focuses on recognition of characters (and knowledge of Pinyin).

While many people find hand-writing characters fun, it takes considerably longer to learn each new word. By focusing on recognition, you can expand your vocabulary at a faster rate.

An expanded vocabulary enables you to read more advanced texts sooner and understand more conversations earlier. Most students prefer this, but may not realize the tradeoffs when "choosing" to learn how to hand-write characters.

If you haven't yet decided whether hand-writing characters is for you, consider this: on smartphones and computers, words typed in Pinyin (using a standard Roman alphabet keyboard) are automatically converted to Chinese characters.

For example, if you type the Pinyin ni hao on your device, 你好 will appear (once you have a Chinese language keyboard installed). Even when taking the HSK (China's official language proficiency exam) in China, students are asked to type in Pinyin and then choose (by recognizing) the correct character, not hand-write them.

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

You should choose those apps to learn the basics of Chinese. With this experience, you can then decide if you are willing to commit to the long-term, multi-year goal of learning Chinese to a more proficient level.

Despite the titles of their course packages (intermediate, advanced, etc.) most apps 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).

All students who acquire advanced Chinese skills learn from a variety of sources: they may take classes in a school, study from several textbooks, hire 1-on-1 tutors in person or online, listen to podcasts, or prepare 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 them 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 designed to be generic enough to accommodate all types of knowledge, from history to science to foreign languages.

Hack Chinese offers significant benefits to Mandarin learners because we are built from the ground up for a single knowledge domain: Mandarin Chinese.

For example:

  1. Our built-in dictionary lets you add new words without manually creating flashcards.
  2. Every word has natural-sounding audio to help train your ear.
  3. Pinyin fonts are chosen carefully to make tone marks clear.
  4. Vocabulary lists from profiency exams, textbooks, 3rd party apps, graded readers, and topics of interest are pre-made for you.
  5. You will never have "duplicate" words, even if many lists contain the same word.
Why should I choose Hack Chinese instead of Skritter?

You should choose Skritter if you want to learn how to hand-write Chinese characters.

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

No. Hack Chinese is a web application, meaning it runs in your browser on desktop and mobile devices.

We plan to introduce native iOS and Android apps in the future.

Are there special offers for academic institutions?
There sure are! Contact us for more details:
Get in touch!
"I cannot imagine the grind it must be to
learn characters without Hack Chinese...
The system took care of everything."
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We're not in the business of making money from unhappy users. If you're unhappy with Hack Chinese at any point, we'll refund your most-recent payment.