I often think of my effort to learn and use Chinese in terms of playing with legos. Of course, language is much more complex. But for where I am in my language ability, I’m formulating thoughts in my mind using English, sorting through the bin of Chinese vocabulary I know, and picking out the ones I think will work to express my meaning.
My creations are pretty poor quality. But they usually have a roughly identifiable shape. With practice, the quality will improve as I gain familiarity with Chinese grammar, expression, and thought.
There are so many new words to learn. It’s fun to see what you can build with just the few you have – like my sons and I do with real Legos. Put them together in different combinations, and you can create amazing things.
Unfortunately, just writing down new words doesn’t mean you know them. Lego pieces are always getting dropped or set down in odd places, and they’re lost. Until the next time you clean, and you find them under a dresser. Then you think, “Oh, I remember that piece! I can use that to make…”