The first requirement for learning a language is repetition, and the second is no fear. If you throw yourself into situations over and over again, where you can repeat specific phrases, you will quickly gain facility in small conversational modules, which then fit together into bigger conversation structures. The best way to start a conversation, very often, is to ask a question. How are you? How is business? How do I get to place X? It does not matter what the question is, as long as it is a question that can be repeated with a variety of people and in many different contexts.
When you start the process, you know you will usually not understand the answer. That is okay; learning a language is, to a considerable extent, a matter of faking it. Over time, you can fake less and less while learning more and more.
If you put yourself into situations where you can ask a taxi driver or a shop assistant “how is business” in Chinese, you will find there are probably only half a dozen or so possible answers to that question. Over time, as you ask the question over and over again, you will start to notice patterns in the replies.
Another tip: try recording the conversations and go back over it later.
The internet also provides plenty of cool ways of speaking and getting feedback on pronunciation and making contact with people who will be able to communicate with you in various ways. Technology has made an enormous difference in learning a language, and you should take full advantage of the opportunities available. When you have the opportunity to communicate with someone in the language you are learning, which is Chinese, you must throw yourself into it without fear at every opportunity you get. The more you do it, the more progress you will make.
Just make sure you go in comfortable with the knowledge that you are sure to make a mistake no matter what you say, and that you are not going to understand what is said in return. It does not matter. As long as you have that fundamental attitude of no fear, you will quickly make astonishing progress.
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