Latest Updates

Dec 20, 2018

Our Blog has launched!

The official Hack Chinese Blog is now live!

Whenever possible, we will bake learning best-practices into the Hack Chinese app itself.

But oftentimes, your learning outcomes are influenced by decisions you make outside the realm of software. These are the types of articles we will publish.

Which brings us to the first post: 6 questions to ask when choosing a Chinese language school

We are a small startup, so every share/like makes a difference!

Happy reading!

Nov 24, 2018

Revamped Focus View

The interface of Focuses has changed substantially. This is part one of a two-part change. The next change will enable you to see which words -- within a specific Focus -- are at which mastery levels & memory strength.

New Study Mode: Cramming

Spaced repetition is best for steadily increasing your knowledge while maintaining strong memories of everything you've studied.

But if you're about to sit for an examination, or discuss a specific case with a teacher, doubling-down on specific knowledge (even if none of your memories are predicted to be 'weak' yet) can be tremendously useful.

Here are the differences:

(Spaced Repetition)
When should I use? Every day Only when required
What will I study in a single study session? Words from your entire vocabulary and every Focus you have queued Words from a single Focus only
What is the priority of content I will see? 1. Weak memories
2. New words
1. Weak memories
2. New words
3. Strong memories (sorted: weakest first)

To cram, navigate to a specific Focus and click 'Cram'.

Nov 19, 2018


  • Textbook focuses are now live. The first textbook to go live is the HSK Standard Course by Jiang Liping. All volumes from HSK 1-5 are now online, with the two final volumes from HSK 6 coming soon.
  • The next two textbooks to come online will be 'New Practical Chinese Reader' and 'Integrated Chinese'.
  • Coming soon: When you complete a textbook chapter focus, the next chapter will automatically queue up. Less manual work for you. Yay!
  • We are exploring: Textbook audio. Most students expose themselves to Chinese audio much less than they should. Generally, you should be listening to your textbook dialogues 5-10 times at a minimum, until it feels like you understand them without needing to think. We think we can create a player that is significantly more user-friendly for students than what's available now, but if you have any thoughts on what an ideal player's features would look like, please reach out to and join the discussion.

New Shortcut Key for "Pause"

For desktop users, 'spacebar' has been added as a shortcut key to pause study sessions.

As a reminder, desktop users should be forgetting about the mouse while studying, and getting into 'flow' with right arrow (positive response), left arrow (negative response), and down arrow (memorization confirmation).

Focus Navigation: Breadcrumbs

A new 'breadcrumb' navigation system has been introduced to Focuses which should hasten your search to find the Focuses you're interested in.

UI Polish

Certain interactions would cause the interface to "jump" several pixels while navigating on a desktop. We've eliminated these at most window sizes, but will continue to polish in the future.

Nov 7, 2018

Bugfix: Progress Widget

Progress bars have been visually under-representing the percentage of memories that were strong. This was a cosmetic bug only and has been fixed; all new daily progress bars on your dashboards should be accurate starting tomorrow. No memory calculations were affected.

Nov 2, 2018

Focus Completion

When you complete a Focus, it will be removed from your study queue. This has no effect on your learning, but will clean up your dashboard and show the next Focus you are making progress towards completing. This does not affect Personal or Teacher Focuses.


For students who choose not to study characters (On mobile Settings > Learn Characters: Off), your dashboard widgets will also now show Pinyin instead of characters.

Nov 1, 2018

Tutorial Videos

We've begun a library of tutorial videos, to help users get the most out of Hack Chinese. On desktop, find these in the dropdown menu. On mobile, check out 'Settings > Tutorials'.

Happy studying!

Oct 30, 2018

Preparing to Launch!

On November 1, 2018, Hack Chinese will officially launch.

All of your accounts and learning history will be deleted.

Just kidding :)

We want to extend an enthusiastic THANK YOU to all of the beta testers who have helped us since early May to find bugs, and whose constant feedback and screenshots helped drive improvements. We quite literally could not have done this without you! Your accounts have been marked 'Free Forever'.

We've been overwhelmingly pleased by the user engagement we've seen -- with most students logging in and studying almost every day. Several users have learned well over 1,000 words in just three months -- just a little over 10 words per day on average! Bravo!

Again, thank you, and happy studying!

What's next?

The core of Hack Chinese was always meant to be a world-class spaced repetition system, tailor-made specifically for Mandarin Chinese.

We've now accomplished that goal. But as far as we are concerned, we are just getting started.

We have a very long list of value-added features to investigate, but as we head towards the end of the year, we have three major development focuses:

  • Populate focuses
  • Enhance teacher functionality
  • Add more power to the displays of individual focuses

Stay tuned for more! Happy Halloween!

Oct 3, 2018

Algorithm Adjustments

  • Memories will now require review only when the strength drops to 2% (previously 10%). This will result in far fewer reviews each day.
  • The first interval (the time before the next review) for new words has been decreased from 24 hours to 6 hours. For students who log in once a day, this will have no impact on you. For students looking to learn faster, you can log in more than once a day, and have a higher chance of a successful first review.

Student Dashboard

  • The two Focus widgets now link directly to the detail view of each focus.
Sep 8, 2018

Progress Chart on Dashboard

Each day, the number of words you know is recorded, as well as what percentage of those memories are strong.

The gray portion of each bar represents weak memories. When you study each day, you only have a chance to learn new words once you have refreshed all of your weak memories.

Many students are learning over 100 words per week (two students are learning over 200 per week!) while keeping their entire vocabulary strong. This is the power of spaced repetition!

If you are studying every day but the total number of words you know is not going up as fast as you thought -- rest assured your mastery of known words is increasing (check your memory quality widget). This means that your current vocabulary will require less and less time to maintain -- which will free you up to learn new words!

Happy studying!

Sep 7, 2018

Pinyin-only Mode

For students learning Pinyin only, an option to turn off learning characters is now available. On mobile, go to Settings and use the toggle at the bottom of the screen.

Sep 4, 2018

We will be listing major changes to hackchinese in this space from now on.


  • You may now set a display name to use instead of your email address throughout the interface (on mobile device go to 'Settings')
  • New 'Settings' button on mobile, which allows more control over focuses when not at a desktop computer
  • The dreaded countdown timer that kicked off each study session has finally been removed :)
  • End-of-study-session stats are now displayed faster, and are more relevant
  • Focus priority is now respected; new words will be introduced from your highest priority Focus until you have learned them all. Only then will you start learning words from your second highest priority, and so on.
  • Failed words are seen sooner during the same study session. This should make re-learning failed words easier.


  • You may now set a display name to use instead of your email address throughout the interface (on mobile device go to 'Settings')