Tried Speaking/Italki For the first time after 1.5 years of Massive Input / Chinese Milestone / Appreciation Post

This is for the chinese language learners or any learners who are curious about the time progression of not having any conversations but only massive input from an only english speaker after a certain amount of time. After realizing that I haven’t had a chinese conversation but only shadowing in terms of speaking for the past 1.5 years, I decided to try Italki for the first time in curiousity of how my chinese would be.
To a surprise, I had a natural 1 hour conversation about random topics that involve culture, language learning methods, politics, and asian beauty standards (ahaha). Thought that I wouldn’t be able to understand anything and would speak poorly but was surprised to understand everything clearly and was able to convey my messages! Initially the teacher thought I didn’t know anything, but as I started speaking, the teacher adapted more to my current level and spoke at a natural pace. Afterwards, I booked 2 more teachers to have more conversations and speaking opportunities. Highly recommend trying online conversations to anyone if they want to improve speaking or just a bit curious how massive input benefits someone. Wanted to share my thoughts as a long time Lingq user. I want to thank everyone that helped me along the way. Input does work wonders! Will be continuing to push my chinese as far as my motivation lets me. Lingq is truly a blessing app.

Time Frame of Serious Chinese Mandarin Learning:
8/1/2021 - 2/5/2023

My statistics when the conversation happened:
Known Words: 49,000 words
Lingqs: 134700 Lingqs
Listening: 2884 hours
Speaking (shadowing) : 29 hours

Specific shoutouts:


That’s impressive, congrats!

What kind of input do you prefer most, is that books, tv shows, informal conversations between natives, or something else?

Hi, I don’t have any preferences since my goal is to find any content with subtitles from youtube that I can import to Lingq. What I notice is that most of my input are more informal conversations between natives, food adventures, and very few political content.


Congrats and thanks for the inspiring post!
I assume the key to your success is the massive amount of listening you did. Two questions:

  1. Did you feel that pronunciation was an issue at all, seeing that you only did 29 hours of shadowing?
  2. Did you do any other “activation” practice like trying to think in Chinese or any writing? I find that when I’m able to switch my brain to work in another language I can also speak it relatively fluently.

Honestly, I was expecting exactly this answer, since the teacher started speaking at a natural pace, it means that he/she was comfortable with the way you expressed yourself. It’s unlikely to happen if someone had input like newspapers or something like that :slight_smile:

But how are your tones? I’m not certain if you waste your time on the forums as much as I do to know what I’m referencing. :slight_smile:

Congrats on your hard work and putting it to use!

Beyond your listening and speaking, did you do other types of deliberate study and practice?


I’m not sure to be honest, I asked the teacher if she could understand me. She said I speak clearly according to her. That’s the only reference I got.

In terms of other deliberate study and practice. I only typed the words on google translate on my phone. That’s about it


That would be interesting if I did that approach ahaha but all my content has been only from online. Nothing physical for extra context

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  1. The bigger problem was activating more complex words to throw out and imagining the exact tone for harder words. My pronunciation was only an issue from words that I haven’t shadowed before which are the majority within the HSK3 amount and above. I shadowed in the more beginning phase at 1000 hours since I was more tempted to speak more at that phase but began to accept that I don’t need it since the listening reinforces every single word that I am consciously noticing.
  2. I actively thought of every word as the conversation went by like a translating machine, but I notice that the more words I knew throughout the journey, the words go by so much faster and faster that I was able to see in my head and speak like I was reading outloud from a physical book. In terms of grammar, the grammar was natural since I heard the pattern so many times. My brain imagines only the tone lines to prevent unnatural rhythm of speech and mostly the pinyin. Never the characters. Perhaps since I just started speaking, I don’t have the natural ability to not imagine every word and speak naturally until I speak each word enough? Not sure about this case

edit: 2. I didn’t do any writing. Only typing on my phone on google translate


With you’re mentioning of 2, this is something I still do all the time when I find I need to pronounce a word for the first time. It is not something I have put much thought into, but, when I am searching for a word, an image of the word will actually appear in my head. So if you’re anything like me, you may be doing this forever with (some) new words!


It’s a whole seperate journey in itself! Thanks for the confirmation

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Well done.

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Awesome. Slow clap.

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Thank you

Thanks xxdb

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You really put in the effort. Glad to see it worked.

I have less than half your amount of effort for the same amount of time and predictably I’m probably less than half the distance.

I had a conversation a couple days ago and I sucked lol. I could only understand about 8 in 10 of every word and it impeded the conversation.

I also could only speak like a two year old. 2-3 word sentences were my best effort.

Anyhow, my listening comprehension and reading has improved significantly in the last 3 months or so, so I’m happy with that.

But yeah, congrats again on the progress. Something to aim at.


That is great for you my friend , many people do not how speaking languages is, but we are all always trying to learn some languages more, but althought we need a help


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Thanks Constantine

Congratulations! :slight_smile:

I am not suggesting this is not possible, as I am following largely the same (all input) approach. However, you must be especially gifted or something does not add up. How come you “only” learned 17K Lingqs, but end up knowing 50K words? I assume you are a heritage learner (AB Chinese) and already knew tons of words passively and might have "the sound of Chinese internalised ", right?
Also, 29 hours of shadowing is not “that” much; this is about 30 min per week for a year. I am surprised you can speak with flow (“fluenty”) after only so little practice. I have not done that much shadowing yet, but from what I have done, it appears to take much more than 29 hours…

Do you care to elaborate?