I have always described language learning as a journey. Of course, there is a destination, but the path itself can also be enjoyable and fulfilling. When most people begin to learn Mandarin Chinese may have only an idea of where they are, and where they want to be. They are at the level of zero knowledge, and they want to be completely fluent in Mandarin Chinese. They do not know what to expect in between, but there are many stages on the path to fluency. Here’s a little of what to expect.
The first stages of language learning are typically basic memorization and practice. If you have ever attempted to learn a language before, you’re probably already familiar with the stage. You know how to say “hello”, “goodbye”, and “thank you”. You learn basic questions like “where are you from?”, and “what is your name?”.
Many people never progress past this stage. Their vocabulary might expand to include basic concepts about ordering food, travel words, and simple expressions but they lack the ability to convey anything more complex. The next level of language learning is not more vocabulary, grammar, or memorization. It is speaking. Those who want to learn Chinese fast began to speak quickly, even before they have the vocabulary to express the things they want to say.
The intermediate level of language learning happens when a speaker surpasses their fear and begins to speak to native speakers. Of course, these conversations are strained, limited, and full of grammatical errors. This doesn’t matter. These difficulties disappear in time. The most important thing is that these language learners have become comfortable in speaking a foreign language while making mistakes. They are not afraid to look foolish and have already taken a giant leap outside their comfort zones.
The next stage happens naturally as speakers listen and reproduce the sounds that they hear. They are able to express more difficult concepts, and their accents and grammatical errors and decrease. They still make mistakes, and they are still limited in terms of concepts that they can express what they are able to have conversations in Chinese. At this point, the more they are able to see the more they will improve.
The last stage of language learning is essentially a branching out into other aspects of the language. Learners can improve their vocabularies, learn written Chinese and become able to read and write, and develop a more natural speaking habits. There is no limit to what language learners can do when they leap into speaking conversational Chinese.