Hack Chinese Review

A lot of LTL Flexi Class students use Hack Chinese. Please share your Hack experiences here.
If you have any suggestions, feedback or questions to ask, we have the owner and founder of Hack Chinese @Hack-Chinese-Daniel her with us in the forum too :star_struck:


Hi Daniel,
I really love the clear and clever structure of your app.
I love it to hover over words in the lists, see the meaning and even an example sentence.
It is perfect that the original tones can be shown, if it got changed in a compound.
I can easily see how the spaced repetition is working fine for me.

I like it that you are in “developing mode”. The last update that new characters are added quickly already worked for me.
I have two suggestions.

  1. How could your new adding words mode work also for not yet included English meanings?
    One example: I am missing “logic” for 理。
  2. Will it be possible, some time in the future, to add personal notes to entries? Example: I would like to note that I have found 理,learning 整理, and 心理。

Hi @Sonja-Mandarin-HSK_3 ! Thanks for your questions.

Our new system to add new words to our dictionary will receive numerous updates. We implemented a basic system that automatically logs unfound words for approval and insertion by our admins, but with less than a week in use, we already have a full list of improvements to make. Your note about adding definitions is a good suggestion, and is on the list!

As for personal notes to entries, this is happening right after our next big update, which should happen sometime in June. Stay tuned!


Dan from Hack Chinese here! About a month ago we launched a study guide which answers a lot of questions about how Hack Chinese works. When you need a break from studying, check it out: Hack Chinese - Professional software to grow your Chinese language ability


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I’ve recently started using Hack Chinese in addition to LTL courses and I really like it so far. I add all the words I’ve learned to a custom list and revise them as often as possible. The only thing I’d wish for would be more example sentences and if you ever build a mobile app, some sort of custom notifications so that I don’t forget :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Thanks @Kateryna-Mandarin-Intro !

We hear you. We absolutely need more example sentences. Right now, we have about ~6,000 sentences in our database (for ~2,000 words).

We’ve found that example sentences are hard to do well. We looked at so many sentence databases, even those we had to pay for, but felt they were too inconsistent. Some sentences were too confusing for learners, some were inappropriate, some were grammatically incorrect.

As engineers, we try our hardest to stay away from doing anything “manually” (when the process could be coded or automated), but after a lot of searching, we decided to go the slow (but hopefully, ultimately more useful in the long run) route: create sentences ourselves.

The sentences we create go through a strenuous quality control process:

  1. A native Chinese speaker creates 3 sentences based on the target word (using a strict set of guidelines, like: prefer simple sentences, prefer shorter sentences, prefer the most common word meanings, etc).

  2. A native English speaker sits with the Chinese speaker and translates the sentence into English.

  3. If the native English speaker (who is also a Chinese learner) believes the original sentence uses any Chinese words that might confuse a learner, the sentence will be changed or rejected entirely.

Steps 1-3 are not easy, and they are the easier steps!

  1. The two native speakers then work together to see if the sentences really deliver the same meaning. (Literal translations often do not match as well as you’d think they should). If not, they change the original Chinese sentence, the English translation, or both.

  2. After the translation is deemed correct, we look at whether we could re-order the words (in either the Chinese original sentence or the English translation) to better line up the word order (while keeping both sentences grammatically correct in their respective languages). We do this because we believe it may make understanding the meaning just a little bit easier (albeit probably subconsciously). This may be a little difficult to understand, so here is a very simple example:

If the original Chinese sentence was 今天她没有上班, and the English translation was “She didn’t go to work today”, we might change the Chinese to 她今天没有上班. (We re-ordered 她 and 今天 to match, as closely as possible, the word order in the English sentence).

In the end, we still make mistakes. But we “own” the sentences (and don’t need to license them).

One issue we struggle with is manpower! To that end, we may ask our friends at LTL to help! wink wink @Max and teachers! =)

If we had enough sentences, a future project takes the “learner-centered” idea even further: display a sentence to a learner where only the target word was new to the learner (so no other words might confuse them). This of course would be dynamic, and we might choose a different sentence for each student (as we know which words each student knows).

As for a native mobile app, that is definitely happening in the future. Stay tuned!

So many ideas, so little time! Thanks for your patience!


Maybe it would be less work for your team, if the users have to click actively a button “please add”. Then you could avoid our nonsense input. Just now I searched with a German word again. :see_no_evil: I am often playing around with the input, trying out the results and don’t want to produce unnecessary work.


Same! I feel like my input very often wouldn’t be too useful, I was just searching for different word combinations to see if they have different meanings.


Thanks @Sonja-Mandarin-HSK_3 and @Kateryna-Mandarin-Intro . We have exactly this (a ‘confirm that you want to request this word be added’ button) going into the next update, along with a few other things to make things easier on the admins. We’ve seen some really, er… “colorful” stuff being searched for :slight_smile:


Im not much of a flashcard guy, but I decided to give Hack a try last night. I especially like that I could easily input all the vocab from my main textbook.

I also like the example sentences. The sentences are very nice: short, not too flowery, good collocations, useful grammar patterns. I find the Pleco example sentences ridiculously difficult i.e. for neck: “He was about to call out when that ruffian dashed at him and gripped his throat.” Vs. Hack: “My neck was injured.” and “She is wearing a precious necklace on her neck.” These are perfect, and remind you of other related vocabulary at the same time.

-I wish there was a way to incorporate the sentences into the automated review. A sentence review mode or something. As far as I know, you have to go to the individual lists and click on the words to read the example sentences.

-when looking at an example sentence, it might be cool to be able to click on another word in that sentence and add it to your personal list.

One problem, I can’t get the audio to work. No sound comes out when I press the speaker button.

Could you please add the Basic/Intermediate Spoken/Written Chinese textbook by Cornelius Kubler, Tuttle?

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So I read the trouble shooting section in the guide and saw that my VPN was blocking the audio, so that is no longer a problem.

I also learned how to toggle the example sentences on the study session.

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@phillip-Mandarin-HSK_4 Glad you found the example sentences toggle, and fixed the audio!

We are moving away from the Baidu TTS (text-to-speech synthesized audio) that gives issues, and heading towards native audio (which should not only sound better, but should prevent the VPN issues!) Stay tuned :slight_smile:


Basic/Intermediate Spoken/Written Chinese textbook by Cornelius Kubler added to our list!


May I suggest Princeton’s “A New China: An Intermediate Reader of Modern Chinese” as well? :slight_smile:


Also, would it be possible to add drag and drop capability to my queue? I have a lot of lists in my queue so organizing them by clicking the up/down arrows is time consuming.


yes, this one! it took me a while to figure out how to change order tbh because I couldn’t drag them😅


Yes! Can’t agree with this one more. Spent ages clicking those buttons


Same here! Drag and drop would be a great addition!


Maybe instead of changing the order of the lists it would be easier to add the possibility to study a certain list directly. Study - Custom - Choose list.
Soon reaching 30 days study consistency, all in green. :sunglasses:


@Marco_Mandarin-HSK_4 @Maria-Mandarin-Intro @Chloe-Mandarin-HSK_5 YES, we can add drag and drop re-ordering for the list queue. Great idea!

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