I have a question regarding how to improve your speaking skills in a particular situation.
Here's my situation: my level of Chinese is somewhat advanced beginner to intermediate, I guess. I'm focusing a lot on reading improvement, by learning characters and grammar, for academic purposes. I live in Hong Kong currently, but most will know that it is not always ideal to practice your 普通话. I was too late to register for any classes, so I'm doing a lot of self-study right now.
I would like to enhance my speaking skills. There are plenty of students from the Mainland over here, and I know quite a few already. So I can find some partners as well, but I don't necessarily have a lot of time to do the classic language exchange every day.
One of my techniques is currently to meet somebody, to take lunch or dinner with him/her, so as to use my vocabulary and so on more actively.
My problem is however that I often feel lost during the conversations. I suddenly rely on the very basic vocabulary, while ignoring the new words I do know. And this disturbs me quite a lot, because I wish to have more interesting discussions than just the casual talk about school etc. (FYI, I guess I'm at around 1200 characters or something: that is, being able to recognise their meanings and possible write them without issues)
Does anyone have experience with this kind of situation? What could I do, to actively use more of the vocabulary I do know? To level up my conversation skills?
I'm aware that I've obviously did not master the new characters to the point where I can use/remember them easily. But will this simply go away with drilling exercises?
Should I "prepare" my conversations somehow, but designing some vocabulary list?
Any suggestions, constructive criticism is highly welcome. Any of your previous experiences with similar situations as well!
My apologies if this question has been asked elsewhere.
Ask me anything you need to know more about this problem.