I think regardless of my knowledge set of Chinese, I feel that there are a lot of gaps in terms of being able to hold a conversation, despite having studied Chinese for a good amount of time.
I’m now going to focus on structuring my own exercises, activities, around a good feedback input-output loop where I can understand (and feel) what people are saying, and be able to express myself in a way that reflects the true meaning (i.e. does not sound like a literal translation from English to Chinese).
Some exercises that I’m going to input in my schedule now that I’m on track again:
1) Start saying and translating from Chinese of lines based on contemporary Chinese dramas. I notice that I understand more than I can speak, so I need to create a better balance.
2) Space out my Chinese practice to include more informal stuff and more real life conversations in Chinese (and only Chinese only). Actively think about how to express yourself in Chinese.
Some things I will do less, for the sake of time (although easy to do):
1) Read complex articles relating to topics such as politics, environment. While my reading skills will improve, I am more focused on speaking/listening better as I would like to be able to make stronger connections with people (unless for school; i.e. Chinese lit class).
2) Just passively watch Chinese dramas. I need to take them out into the real world and say them.