Latest Updates

Nov 16, 2023

Happy 5th birthday Hack Chinese! (An update on our next big release)

For most of this year, we've been working on a big update to Hack Chinese.

Our plan was to release it this month (November), as a celebration of our five-year anniversary.

Unfortunately, we aren't quite ready. While the bulk of the new features are done, we're still adding layers of polish and optimizing for performance.

We're extremely excited for this new update to be ready, as it will certainly be the single largest update to Hack Chinese since we launched five years ago. It includes ~10+ "big-ticket" features, tons of quality-of-life improvements, and substantial redesigns to almost every screen.

Our current aim is to release by the end of January, with a short closed beta before launch.

Thanks for the opportunity you've given us to work on our dream for the last five years. We look forward to the next five years with even more excitement than when we started!

8,000+ Example Sentences Added

We have added over 8,000 new example sentences to our database, now covering 100% of the words in HSK 1-5.

Each sentence:

  • Was written with students in mind: simple, with few complex words besides the target word.
  • Was checked by a native Chinese speaker for both correctness and authenticity.
  • Has natural sounding audio for all the voice options in Hack Chinese.
April 26, 2023

"Details" View on Vocabulary Growth Chart

We've added an optional 'Details' view to your vocabulary growth charts (on the dashboard). You can toggle the 'Details' view on or off using the new button next to the range selection dropdown (on the top right of the chart).

Enabling the details view will provide more granular clarity into the state of your words:

  1. Strong - Words you are actively learning but do not require review right now. You will review them again in the future.
  2. Memorized - Words you've told us you never need to see again because you are confident you will remember them forever. (See your Memorized Words).
  3. Mastered - Words you have remembered for a duration in-between reviews that surpasses your 'Mastery' threshold (configurable in Settings). You will not review these words and they are considered known. (See your Mastered Words).
  4. Weak - Words that are due for review right now.
  5. Blocked - Words you've elected not to continue reviewing. Blocked words are considered unknown. (See your Blocked Words).
  6. Leeches - Words you have lapsed on (failed to remember) enough times to surpass your 'Leech' threshold (configurable in Settings). You will not review these words and they are considered unknown. (See your Leeches).
  7. Assumed - Words we assume you know but have not yet tested you on. Depending on your Assumption Check Rate (configurable in Settings), you'll check your knowledge of these at some point in the future. (See your Assumed Words).
Too much detail leaving you feeling confused? No problem! Just leave 'Detail' mode turned off.

Bugfixes & Small Improvements

  • Clicking outside the range selector dropdown on the dashboard charts now closes the range selector.
  • Your preferred range for your review schedule and vocabulary growth chart are now saved. If you always prefer the year-long view or the 30-day review, you can select it once and it will stay at that setting when you return (until you change it again).
  • The vocabulary growth chart should no longer show extra "weak" memories each day. (Previously, 'leeches' were always shown as weak (yet un-refreshable).
  • Leeches (which are suspended and are unable to refreshed) previously counted in your total vocabulary size, but they no longer do. As such, your total vocabulary size will decrease to exclude words you've blocked.
  • The range selection dropdown for your Review Schedule and Vocabulary Growth chart has been removed on mobile devices. They were inactive (and defaulted to 30 days) on mobile previously (as seeing the detail on anything more than 30 days was difficult on small screens), so this change simply removes the confusion presented by a non-functioning button. The range selector is still present and functional on larger screens.

100% of these are thanks to user feedback. We can't say it enough: thank you!

April 18, 2023

"China Quest" with GoEast Mandarin

GoEast Mandarin (one of our partners with a reputation for producing highly competent students) just announced an in-person immersive learning experience in China this summer, and we can't wait to tell you about it!

China Quest

GoEast has three China Quests (ranging from $370 to $1,680 USD). Each quest is different in length, location, and content (one is in Shanghai and is filled with language classes, one is in a nearby village and focuses on being in nature with locals, and one is in the old capital city of Xi'an, focused on history and food).

GoEast can also help secure your visa and pick you up at the airport, making this a trouble-free way to experience China (and Mandarin!) like never before.

See all the details here:

Extras for Hack Chinese students

As a Hack Chinese student who signs up for any China Quest, you'll also receive:

  • A welcome package that includes Hack Chinese x GoEast Mandarin swag
  • Graded Readers in Mandarin Chinese
  • Books related to Chinese society and culture
  • A free massage (at a local massage studio)
  • A year of free access to Hack Chinese (on us!)
  • A chance to hang out with Daniel (our founder), who will be attending one of the Quests himself this summer!

GoEast was willing to offer Hack Chinese a commission for every student we refer, but we instead asked if we could pass on those savings to the students themselves. They agreed!

So, you will also receive the following:

  • Two online classes from GoEast Mandarin (which can be used as pre-trip preparation or after-trip review)

Hope to see you there! ~ Daniel

April 7, 2023

Fast List Building

Until today, there were two ways to add words to a List:

  1. Search for each word in the dictionary and manually add them one by one to your List.
  2. If you had a big list of words to import, you could email our admins and have us import the list for you.

While searching the dictionary was fine for a few words, doing it for dozens (or hundreds) of words could be tedious.

While emailing us a spreadsheet to import on your behalf was less work for you, we weren't always able to help everyone in a timely manner.

Today, we've introduced a better way to add words to your lists: Fast Add.

When viewing a list (on a desktop or large tablet), clicking the new 'Fast Add' button will bring up an input box where you can type many words (or paste them in from another source).

After clicking "Import", you will be brought to a screen that lets you action any ambiguities or missing words that are found in your import.

Instead of going into a ton of detail, try it out for yourself, and be sure to send feedback our way!

Revised System: Adding Words to our Dictionary

Previously, if you searched for a word that was not found in our dictionary, it would automatically be added to an approval queue. Our admins would review the word, and add it to our dictionary if it was a valid word.

Unfortunately, automatically submitting every unsuccessful search term quickly polluted our approval queue with tens of thousands of invalid submissions.

The volume of these bad submissions quickly overwhelmed us, and the system was temporarily turned off.

Now, the system is back -- but with two upgrades:

  1. You must now confirm whether or not you want to submit a word for review if it is not found in our dictionary. (This should prevent the majority of bad submissions.)
  2. You can now choose which list you want a word to be added to. If our admins approve your word, it will be added directly into your word list without requiring action from you.

Still waiting for words to be approved from the old system?

If you've added words using the old system in the past few months, we have logged them but have not yet taken action on them.

To see the words you've searched for (and decide which you'd like to submit for review), head here (on a large screen):

While new features are always exciting to develop, our next 4-6 week cycle will be focused on fixing bugs and improving performance. Please shout if there are any outstanding issues you would like to see resolved!


Feb 28, 2023

New List Type: Podcasts

Listening to spoken Mandarin is an essential activity for every student, and podcasts are great for this. Podcasts are easy to add to your daily routine, are almost entirely dialogue, and are usually more interesting than the contrived plots you find in TV shows & movies.

However, students can easily be overwhelmed by a large number of unknown words in each episode.

So we've launched a new list type: Podcasts!

Our first supported podcast is 聊聊东西. Hosted by Candice (and occasionally her friend Yifei), you can listen in as they tackle modern topics such as dating, living abroad, learning languages, insomnia, happiness, and more.

Candice has published a new episode almost every month since June 2020, and we've created vocabulary lists for all 50 episodes.

And - we'll continue to add lists for future episodes!

How to Study with 聊聊东西

  1. Add vocabulary lists from 聊聊东西 to your List Queue
  2. Learn the required words in Hack Chinese a week before listening (in a rush? You can always cram!)
  3. Search your favorite Podcast app for 聊聊东西 liao liao dongxi (or head to their official Youtube channel) and listen
  4. Optional: download full transcripts (for reading practice) on the 聊聊东西 Patreon
  5. Optional: Love it? Support Candice with a subscription to her Patreon!

More Podcast Lists Coming Soon

Want more Podcasts? Which ones are your favorite? Be sure to let us know so we can add them to the List Catalog!

Feb 26, 2023

Integration with maayot

maayot is a web and iOS/Android graded reading app that unlocks one article every day, graded to various proficiency levels from the HSK.

Each article is short (2-6 paragraphs), and is written in a way that is similar to how HSK reading passages are. And, they come with native audio (for listening practice) and comprehension quizzes to test your understanding.

And now, if you enable the Hack Chinese <> maayot integration and click on words while reading in maayot, those words will be sent to your Hack Chinese account for you to review alongside the rest of your vocabulary study.

To get started, press

on the top of the screen, and then head to 'Integrations'. Enjoy!

Feb 15, 2023

New: Editing Notes While Studying

We've heard loud and clear that personal notes, while useful, would be much more useful if you could add or edit them while studying.

Now, while you are studying, you'll see a new button on the top left that lets you add a note or edit an existing one.

If you prefer using shortcuts (us too!), just press 'A' while studying to add a note.


An Update on The Chairman's Bao Integration

Since we launched our direct app-to-app integration with The Chairman's Bao earlier this month, the uptake has been great, with almost 100 students linking their accounts in the first 24 hours alone!

We did have some instances where accounts were not sending data correctly. We've connected with those individuals directly to debug, and think we have everyone sorted. If anyone's connection is not working, let us know and we can jump to fix.

Also - coming soon (this week or next), the integration will also send the contextual examples that each word was found in while being saved.

Feb 11, 2023

We've teamed up with "That's Mandarin"!

Over the last 17 years, That's Mandarin has earned a reputation as one of the premier Mandarin schools in China, having already helped over 100,000 students (both offline and online) reach their language goals.

You can't talk about That's Mandarin without mentioning their awesome use of technology during the teaching process. Since 2010, they've been using (and continually developing) their own proprietary learning platform, "NihaoCafe," which complements their online classes.

You can read more about what makes That's Mandarin special, and grab your discount if you are interested in signing up for their classes on our Collaborations page.

Feb 2, 2023

Integration with The Chairman's Bao

On February 1, The Chairman's Bao made a massive upgrade to their website, apps, and UX -- and launched an officially supported integration with Hack Chinese.

If you aren't familiar with The Chairman's Bao, they are one of the leading publishers of graded reading material, focused exclusively on current affairs from modern day news sources.

Now, if you enable the Hack Chinese <> TCB integration and subsequently save unknown words while reading in TCB, those words will be sent to your Hack Chinese account for you to review alongside the rest of your vocabulary study.

To get started, press

on the top of the screen, and then head to 'Integrations'. Enjoy!

Feb 1, 2023


  • We've moved 'Sync with Du Chinese' from the dropdown menu into the new 'Integrations' subsection of the 'Settings' screen.
  • We fixed an issue with colors (indicating tone number) not displaying properly when switching between light and dark modes.
  • We added an ellipsis to the 'More Responses' button on mobile, hoping to make it more discoverable.

These are small changes, but we're super excited. Why? Because February might be one of the best months ever for HC updates. Stay tuned!

Jan 23, 2023

The 'Algorithm' MEGA UPDATE

Our first update of 2023!

Across the Internet, a common critique of Hack Chinese has been that our SRS algorithm scheduled too many reviews.

So we did a ton of research, and discovered three things:

  1. Our scheduling algorithm does did schedule more reviews than many other systems.
  2. There are no "one-size-fits-all" algorithm settings, because people have different goals.
  3. Most people are quick to become overwhelmed when trying to figure out which algorithm settings are best for them.

Do people really have different goals? Aren't we all just trying to memorize as many words as possible?

We do have different goals. Here are two archetypes that will hopefully make this clear:

The University Student

A student in a university course is, first and foremost, concerned about getting a good grade in their Chinese class. And getting a good grade means having as close-to-perfect recall as possible for the words they are required to know.

For these students, finding and eliminating gaps in their knowledge is extra important (especially before test day). If you're aiming to take a language proficiency exam like the HSK, this could also be you. For these types of students, more frequent reviews (to more quickly eliminate knowledge gaps) makes sense.

The Self-Learner

If grades and exam scores are not relevant to you, then expanding the breadth of your vocabulary is probably the best use of your time. If you think having 80% retention of 2,000 words is more useful than having 85% retention of 1,000 words, you probably fit into this category.

For these people, fewer reviews makes sense: they can accept a few lingering gaps in their knowledge if it means freeing up a considerable amount of time to learn many more words or perform other study activities (like reading and listening).

Goals Change

Of course, goals can change. If you're in university now but then graduate, or pass your HSK exam and want to keep studying, perhaps changing your algorithm options makes sense!

To accomodate different goals, we now offer a range of algorithm options with sensible presets. In addition, we've painstakingly written our copy (the words next to the algorithm options themselves) to make clear what the options do, and how they will affect your experience with Hack Chinese.

The net effect of most of these changes should be fewer reviews and more focus on expanding your breadth of knowledge.

Let's take a look!

New Algo Setting: Positive Interval Modifier (PIM)

Every time you remember a word, we calculate a new interval for that word -- which determines how long we will wait before testing you on that word again.

Previously, everyone was locked into our default PIM, but we now have a range of options to accomodate different goals.

New Algo Setting: Negative Interval Modifier (NIM)

When you forget a word, it goes into a brief "re-learning" stage, after which we calculate a new interval for that word by multiplying the previous interval by the NIM.

Our "classic" NIM (the default until 2023) set the interval of forgotten words to zero, forcing you to learn them from the beginning (even if you had previously remembered them for long stretches of time).

Now, we offer several alternative NIMs that reduce the interval to a fraction of it's previous value (instead of setting it to zero).

New Algo Setting: Automatic Leech Suspension

When you forget a review word, it is called a "lapse". Words you lapse on frequently are called "leeches". Suspending (ceasing to review) leeches can greatly decrease study time without significantly decreasing total vocabulary size.

With automatic leech suspension, you can set a threshold for when you'd like to "give up" studying leeches.

The idea here is to spend your time in Hack Chinese productively. For some, drilling words you find extremely difficult to remember is not as good a use of time as simply learning many other words instead.

New Algo Setting: Mastery Threshold

This new setting lets you provide an answer to the question, "when does spaced repetition end?"

You can now set the length of time you must remember a word (between reviews) before it is considered "mastered". Mastered words are not scheduled for further review.

New Resurrected Algo Setting: Flat Review Schedule

(Yes, it's back! And better than ever.)

Spaced repetition can naturally produce an uneven review schedule (i.e. 50 reviews due today, 500 due tomorrow). You can "flatten" your review schedule by reviewing some words early. Flat review schedules are slightly less efficient, but some people find them much easier to follow. So are they really less efficient? ;)

New Algo Setting: Randomize New Intervals

By randomly adjusting all new intervals by a small amount, words learned together are less likely to be reviewed together. Separating reviews in this way may help eliminate an artificial performance boost that can occur when seeing one word makes you think of another word.

New Dashboard Widget: Review Schedule

While we spent so much time playing with algorithm settings, we needed a good way to see what the future review schedule looked like.

Front and center in your dashboards is a new 'Review Schedule' chart that shows your number of required reviews in the coming days, weeks, and months! Let us know what you think.

Updated Dashboard Widget: Reviews Due Now

The first thing most people check when they log on is how many reviews they have waiting for them. This information has always been on the top left of your dashboards.

But the associated single-bar graph made little sense.

Today, that widget has been replaced with a clearer one that simply tells you how many reivews you have due. And, it differentiates between due right now, and due "later today".

Range Selectors on Dashboard

For the Vocabulary Growth widget and the new Review Schedule widget, there are now range selectors that let you choose the period of time the charts should reflect.

To start configuring the HC algorithm to work best for you, click

on the top of the screen, and then head to 'Algorithm' settings. Enjoy!

And as always after big updates, let us know if anything needs another look!