Im looking for more speaking(mandarin chinese) practice, and ideas on how to get better at speaking mandarin.
Find a topic everday, like what did you do today, then ask youself in front of a mirror then answer with chinese, if you find difficult to speak directly, writing on paper will also help you.
If you find borring talking with youself, there are plenty of free chinese media and drama to watch on youtube. Some of them have English subtitles so you can learn and enjoy.
That is a good question. I think you should ask yourself how do you want to speak Mandarin?
Accurate with a non-foreign accent (sounding very close to a Chinese native) or clear accurate (with a foreign accent)?
My goal in speaking mandarin is not to try to sound like a native Chinese speaker (however living in the north east of china it’s turning into that) but to be able to communicate with Chinese people so they can understand what I am saying. Yes I will have a western accent when I speak but as long as I get the pronunciation correct (with tones) and speak clearly I believe the western accent doesn't matter. This route involves doing pinyin drills and tone drills on top of learning words grammar etc.
If your goal is to sound as close as possible to a Chinese native speaker then you need to choose what Chinese accent are you aiming for? Do you want to sound like a native Beijing resident or a native Shanghai resident etc. Much like how Chinese speakers learning English decide what western accent they want (should I sound like I'm from the UK or Australia or USA etc). In this case you need to do lots of 模仿 or imitating of that part of china's accent. You do this my watching TV programs from that area of China or finding a language partner from that area of China. This is of course on top of the usual pinyin and tone drills.
One last note, two years ago I was listening to a VOA radio program about how to learn a language. The experts on the program said you need to approach the language much like an actor would when learning lines in a movie or tv show. In a nutshell you need to “act out” the language. Show expression when saying the words. The acting out will eventually become natural emotion when saying the words. for example when you say "happy" you will be happy etc.
Hope this helps
watching movies is a good method to improve your language skill.
but prctice and practice should be a way to get better.
you could find a native friend through the internet.
and try to write down any sentences which cross your mind in the notebook.
then discuss with your friend.
today is really hot.
how to say these in chinese?
if you not sure, write down on your notebook.
Furthermore, you have to accumulate the number of words.
actually, chinese word is easier than English.
because every singal word have different meaning.
you could learn a word, then compose to another words.
If you want to exchange language, feel free to check my profile.
How to improve your Chinese speaking?
Don't feel embarrassed by learning the tones.
Don't get lazy about speaking the tones, especially at the end of sentences. You know when you feel happy just to speak a sentence and your tones start trailing off ...
Use Text to Speech software to speak Chinese to yourself, and see if your Text to speech software can understand what you say. I guarantee you, if the software can't understand you, it's not a problem with the software. Because when you ask a Chinese person to say the same sentence, the Text to Speech will suddenly type what you thought it should have typed when you spoke.
Learn to read: characters, words, sentences. There are lots of software for your cell phone and computer that can help you.
Meet as many language partners as possible because from my experience, most language partners from China, will eventually get to busy with your regular studies to meet on a consisentence basis.
i think the best way for you is to listen CCTV news report or radio.