Today, I am going to advocate the conception of "thinking speed" in second language learning. In other words, the faster you can transform "English sentences" into "Chinese sentences" in your brain, the better your fluency in Chinese language will be. As a matter of fact, this is a necessary but hidden truth in guiding you to improve your spoken Chinese. Therefore, if you can set your mind to practicing this "thinking speed" in a systematical and effective way, you would enjoy seeing the obvious progress in your Chinese study.
There are many ways to improve your thinking speed. But before we jump to that topic, I need you to start assessing your Chinese level according to "five capabilities," which are listening, speaking, reading, composition, and translating/interpreting. There are some misconceptions about "improving one capability at the cost of losing other capabilities." This statement is only true under some conditions, and I am not going to give much argumentation here. But if you are truly interested in learning more about this paradox, please click here to log into my website about "Understanding the Study Curve of Second Language Learning."
The point given above is that you should have a habit of evaluating your Chinese level periodically according to these five capabilities. No matter which stage or which level you are in, you should not skip this endeavor. Most Chinese learners are aware of the three major components in studying Chinese, which are vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. Therefore, you can integrate these three components into the five capabilities while evaluating your Chinese level. For example, on 7/18/2018, my listening Chinese capability is 3 out of 10 because my vocabulary and pronunciation are blah blah blah, my speaking Chinese capability is 2 out of 10 because my pronunciation and grammar are blah blah blah, and so on.
After giving yourself a thorough evaluation, you can start practicing your thinking speed. One of the most useful approaches I have been enforcing my students to use is "watching and observing a short video" over and over again. You don't change the video until you have totally "overcome" it. If you regard a week as a circle, you can choose a 3-minute video to observe and imitate again and again (broadcasting from CCTV or any of your favorite Chinese TV Show or Program). The video can be decided according to your own preference and Chinese level, but the key is to change the video once your Chinese level has progressed. For example, I would dictate everything I heard after playing the video for 5 times on the first day. And then I will analyze the sentence structure thoroughly according to what I have dictated (I am referring to people who have basic knowledge in Chinese grammar. If you don't, you can purchase Module 1 to help you to achieve that goal). And then I will watch the video twice to make sure that I didn't miss anything. Then I will read with the video the last time as I am watching. On the second day, you will start with a fresh spirit, and you should still do the same thing. Imagine what just happened? You don't have to spend as much time as yesterday, because your "thinking speed" has progressed as you are repeating these actions. Do these same actions again on the third, forth, fifth and sixth day, and you will realize that you can speak as fluently as the broadcaster. The next week, you can change another video to practice your thinking speed.
There were students in the past who listened to me and trusted what I said, so they did not only just scan it, but also practiced the theory persistently, and they ALL made it! But there were also students who heard of it but not carry it out, guess what happened? I wish you all find the right approach to study Chinese, and learn more than just our language but also our spirit! I cannot wait to see you grow in your Chinese study.