Basically I did nothing for three months.
I went to no listening and no exposure from July onwards. I was in Malaysia and used English or Cantonese there, possibly more Cantonese. Just the odd smattering of mandarin here and there when I need to. There, many of the 20’s and under group only speak mandarin. Their knowledge of dialects is decreasing markedly.
I went back to Hellotalk a couple of weeks ago for some random chats and my tones were very Cantonese. I could recalibrate fairly quickly when the person on the other end corrected me.
I got a bit tired of electronic flash cards. Decided to go old school and write characters and notes on a paper card. Picked up a few characters and the vocabulary I pick up from one language exchange I recite with another partner. It’s a nice change to physically write characters. Hopefully, there is some benefit on the imprinting in the brain process.
One conversation was quite unproductive. I spent more than half an hour listening to one lady’s marital (mainly childcare) issues in her English but very little Chinese coming back. The good thing is, the topic is a great ice breaker during language exchange. I can gradually build up more vocabulary with repetition when speaking to different people using the same topic. Seems quite an enjoyable topic for those who have children. Limited English doesn’t seem to be an impediment to expressing one’s feelings on this topic.
Maybe what I should do is take new vocabulary from lessons or past notes and just try to use them on language partners in a very informal way. Not just have random conversations and hope what comes up commonly will come round again.