Despite living in China and spending a lot of time studying Chinese, I felt that my speaking ability lagged behind my listening and reading skills. The reason is simple. I spent far more time practicing listening and reading.
While I could have basic conversations – I didn’t have much cadence or confidence in my spoken Chinese. I was often in my head trying to figure out the tones and felt like I was always stumbling over my word choice. My decision to hold off on working on my spoken Chinese was partially a conscious decision as well. I put more emphasis on my listening skills because I felt like being able to understand what was said was more important than being able to speak well.
The other part of it was just a byproduct of my personality and habits. I’m very introverted. Even in English, I spend more time listening and reading compared to speaking. This personality trait transferred to my studying. I would listen to Chinesepod (my review) or read news articles on The Chairman’s Bao (my review) on my way to work and in my free time. Once a week, I would have an hour long conversational class with a tutor from Italki (my review).
The vast majority of my Chinese studying time wasn’t going towards learning how to speak – and it showed.
That’s when I decided to try Glossika.
Waichinese is one of the buggiest, most problematic apps I’ve used but I still highly recommend it. Learning to speak Mandarin with good pronunciation is something you can’t ignore or hope for it to come naturally. The sooner you begin improving your pronunciation, the better off you’ll be. If you’re a beginner student, it may seem like learning pronunciation can wait, but correcting pronunciation mistakes gets harder the longer you’ve been making them.
Click here to read about learning pronunciation as a beginner at Hacking Chinese. (While you’re there, bookmark the page and read everything you can.)