Still trying to improve my Chinese mandarin speaking

Hi there, 

It has been a year since I posted my last discussion about improving my chinese speaking. As an update my confidence has improved a little in speaking Chinese and I have many native Chinese language partners who need help with their english so they help me with my chinese in return. They are all nice people but I've helped them more with their english than they have with my chinese and with living in England they automatically switch to english whenever I have conversations with them or I speak to them in chinese and they reply in english! I know I need to be more assertive and ask them to speak only in chinese but I keep falling into the same bad habits as I'`m quite laidback about it. To put the icing on this cake, lol, I also seem to improve more when I'm relaxed than when I put pressure on myself to be disciplined! I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't! 

I wondered if any westerners who are learning chinese have had similar experiences? 

Apr 9, 2017 9:16 PM
Comments · 21

I think one reason for the use of English is the Chinese native speaker is far better in English than most learners are in Chinese so it tends to switch into English. I think chat partners are not so good for beginners unless you can organize reciprocal learning. If you do, I think you need some ground rules - 10 minutes for each language say.

The biggest problem I have had with chat partners is:

The ones who panic at the last minute and won't speak to me. I am a bit old fashioned and if we arrange a time. I expect the other person to be there.

The ones who have nothing to say - they have not thought of sending a page or a topic they want to discuss.

And of course - like Tamara, I have fallen back into English during a chat. My fault usually.

So far i have never found a chat partner that has worked and I usually pay for a tutor.

April 10, 2017
Greetings from a fellow Chinese language learner. First, make sure you're not the one switching to English whenever you're having trouble expressing yourself in Chinese. It's an easy thing to do but it's a bad habit. Chat partners will notice it and will start switching to English anytime they see you struggling. Some other thoughts:

* If you're doing 60-minute chats, consider reducing the chat time to 20-30 minutes. If you only speak enough Chinese to fill 10-15 minutes per chat, then a one-hour chat will always be unbalanced.

* Make sure you have materials prepared for your chosen topic. Have the vocabulary you want to practice in front of you. Prepare a story about your week. I've learned it's hard to improvise a conversation in a foreign language when you're not fluent. And when you have no topic prepared and little ability to improvise, it's easy to default back to English just to fill the time.

* Consider taking lessons with a tutor or teacher instead of having lots of chat partners. A 30-minute Chinese lesson where you're immersed in Chinese the whole 30 minutes is more efficient than a 60-minute chat session where you only get 10 minutes of Chinese. Lots of italki tutors are quite affordable, friendly, and flexible regarding chat topics.

Again, don't let yourself slip back into English when the first difficulty arrives. If you tell your chat partners that you want to use more Chinese during chats but then you switch to English as soon as you hit an obstacle, it will be confusing for them.

Hope this helps. Please take whatever is useful from my suggestions and ignore the rest!
April 10, 2017
i think maybe they thought chinese is difficult,so they afraid that you can t understand some sentence.if you don t mind,i can be your language partner !
April 10, 2017
June 12, 2017
I help chinese learner by half an hour chinese lesson and rest in English,so if you have the problem ,I think you can contact me .
June 12, 2017
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