Filling in the "Gap"
I'm an American that took one year of Chinese in my local University. Then left for a year of studying Chinese in China. I enrolled in the 2nd year class in Chinese, as I found the 1st year and 'ma1, ma2, ma3, ma4' a little below my level. But 2nd year was way over my head! My teacher spoke nothing but Chinese and trying to describe complex grammatical structures in a foreign language was, often times, more confusing. I managed to struggle through the year (still had an amazing time!) and left feeling fairly comfortable with conversations, but was in no way a 'passing 2nd year' student. After a few years back in the states, I'm starting to practice formally in my local University. I find the 2nd year class here perfect, because its filling in on all the rules to usage I've used 'unconsciously' while speaking.
Anyone having a similar experience?
A great article by John P. (of CPod) talks about learning Chinese.
I'm currently plateaued at Level 3. Watch out Level 4! Here I come!