When we are learning a language, there are some aspects of the language that we can learn very quickly, and others which will take much longer. And it depends on what our own first language is, and the language we are learning.Eg: for native speakers of English to learn how to write in French may not take as long as it would to learn to write Russian or Chinese.
Knowing your natural strengths and weaknesses is important.
I spent most of my time learning the grammar and vocabulary, and I spoke and listened to the language looking for communication. I didn’t worry about the tones.
The result was that I became conversational within three months and developed enough ability to speak about the tones and the writing Chinese. If I learnt the tones and the writing first, I would have to do it all in English.
Many people work on the tones and the writing first <em>because </em>they are the hardest. They don’t have conversations because they are worried that the tones are wrong, and they are unable to remember what grammar they have read about because they have never used it in conversation.
The result is that they have spent a lot of time on areas of the language which are difficult to succeed in, and they perceive themselves as failing. Their concern for one area of the language actually blocks acquisition of another area, when learning the skills in a different order would have been more beneficial. Whey they speak to native speakers they have to use English. Eventually they quit, because not only do they perceive themselves as failing,