So Olle of Hacking Chinese decided to drop a bombshell on the first of January, his Chinese character challenge. What makes this different from other challenges or goals (new year resolutions?) is that this isn’t necessarily a pre-made goal (learn x amount of characters per day kind of thing), but rather a promotion of taking more effort in your Chinese character learning.

Furthermore, it isn’t just an open goal for everyone to try on their own, but rather that you get assigned two challenge buddies. These people are a way to make you more accountable to the challenge. I’ve already emailed my challenge buddies, both with different goals, motivations & levels, which makes this so much more interesting.


One of the ways to promote better learning of Chinese characters, is to employ mnemonics. However, for this, you need to actually start looking deeper into characters. What are the radicals? What do they really contribute? Take your time and be sensible. If you forget a character, why is that? Ask yourself these questions.

My own goals and motivations

I’ve sent this to my challenge buddies earlier this week. This challenge came at the right time to motivate me to use my time here in Taiwan to best of my ability. I’m in this environment where new characters are around me every day. However, some of these might be unfamiliar due to them being traditional characters.

So my goals are two-fold:

1) Get a deeper understanding of the switches between simplified and traditional.

2) Make sense of the world around me.

Here’s how I’m going to achieve this:

1) Start paying attention to characters around me that look familiar in context, but are in fact traditional characters. Write them down. Also, I’m going to find a list of characters that were changed from traditional to simplified to gain better insight in these changes. Not only do I want to do this, to learn more characters, but I feel that the heated debate of simplified vs traditional is something I can’t really give insight or my opinion on, without being informed of all these changes. At the moment I feel both have their merits, but let’s not get into that discussion now.

2) Be conscious and aware of my environment when I’m in Taiwan. When I’m on the commute to work, write down unknown characters. By the end of the year, I don’t want to see an unknown character. This is a tall order, but I think it’s totally possible. This will help me to go from just characters to interpreting vocabulary & sentences.

 My tools

  • Notebook

  • Skritter

  • HanziCraft (a new site that I’m working on that I wasn’t going to release to the public until later this week, but I thought why not sneak it in here. I’ll do a big post about this site soon)

Don't wait anymore

You are the only person who can take your learning to the next level. Why wait? I suggest you take part in this challenge. Let’s make Chinese characters as easy the ABC’s.