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oh, another thing...
By the way, I'm still a beginner at Mandarin myself, I'm far from fluent yet!|
But here's another thing I'm doing:
I'm trying to think in Chinese. Whenever I meet someone who has learned a second language, they say that thinking in the other language is a huge step. Some people, after years, still think in their own language and translate in their mind, which takes time and memorization. So when I'm driving, or cooking, or just daydreaming, I try to say little things in Chinese, like "that car is grey" or "this tofu is too hot" (even if it isn't). I basically make stuff up, and sometimes I may be wrong, but I'm usually close enough that it's worthwhile.
Learn a few simple phrases like "I want..." or "I have..." or "that is..." They can be used SO MUCH! Learn them in Chinese, and say them to yourself about anything you see around you, and fill in the rest of the sentence in English for now. You will be getting used to some very basic commonly used PARTS of sentences, then the vocabulary will fill in later, as you wish.
Wo yao a tuna fish sandwich.
Wo yao go to the store.
Wo you two dictionaries.
Wo you a blue shirt.
Wo you... whatever, but you'll drill in what "wo you..." means ... what it FEELS LIKE it means, because you are seeing or doing that thing at that moment. You are using the phrases, so they'll stick better.
Wanna hear something really dorky? I practice in my head by imagining that a Chinese person is with me who doesn't understand English. I have to say things as best I can. At some point, I might realize I wanted to use the word "something" a lot, but didn't know it, so I look it up and use the new word(s) in some sentences.