Many Chinese learners do not like to open mouth to practice what they learned. They always think reading books and listening to mp3/podcast is enough to learn Chinese. It is absolutely incorrect.
We did a comparative experiment through a survey among learners who already learned Chinese about 1 year by themselves or with Chinese teachers. They all never come to China. One group of learners keep practice with Chinese at least twice a week. The other group almost open mouth to speak Chinese with real Chinese people less than 2 times per month, they like to learn by themselves, listen mp3 or use some software, have some Chinese friends on instant messengers to chat by typing or exchange email. The result is as followed,
The first Group:
Listening ability - 85% is good and can understand clearly what they already learned.
Conversation ability - 68% can express some simple topics clearly in Chinese. (Example: 你住在哪里？你家几口人？你孩子几岁了。今天天气怎么样？) Pronunciation is good or qualified.
48% already can express some complex topics (Example: 你知道最近中国猪肉价格上涨迅速，大家担心会引发通货膨胀的新闻吗？最近美国次级抵押贷款市场引发的危机，对你有影响吗？你觉得你是一个内向的人还是外向的人？)
Characters understanding - 62% can read characters they already learned. Among them, about 85% have learning experience with teachers.
The second Group:
Listening ability - Only 24% can understand clearly our questions in Chinese. Almost 72% cannot understand our question after we repeat 3 times. Finally we have to translate to their native language. When they hear translation, some of them only express 'I ever learned it before, but already forget now'
Conversation ability - Almost 35% only can speak some very simple sentences, example: 你好，我叫... ， 我在学中文。Over 85% ' s pronunciation is not good or difficult to understand. 32% cannot express a complete sentence. No one can express any complex topics.
Characters understanding - Only 9% can read characters.
Our suggestions to Chinese Learners after this survey:
1, Only learning with book and mp3, chatting and writing email is not enough. Open your mouth to practice and use Chinese with real Chinese people at least twice per month.
2, Find a professional teacher to learn. It will help you to save time.
3, Do not feel shy to talk with Chinese volunteers. They love to talk with you.
4, Many language points cannot be remembered without enough practice. Example: Quantifier 一个人, 两只梨头, 三口钟, 一把茶壶, 一轮明月, 一钩残月, 一弯新月, 一叶扁舟, 一缕笛声 These Quantifiers also are difficult for native Chinese speakers to remember without practice during childhood.
Posted by Chinese Adviser Carter