Good evening peeps.
To speak the language, one's needs to do it with the speakers of the language.
I've never attended any Mandarin classes. I've never received any form of formal or informal education in the language. I've never been guided by any Mandarin speakers, formally. Nonetheless. I survive in the Chinese restaurant. I always manage to order my family's favourite dishes for dinner. We always get to enjoy the popular food.
How did I manage while my Chinese educated children fumbled and stumbled upon being asked to talk to the waitress?
I pick up the language from my young charges. I practise it with the native speakers. I don't go for textbook language but the 'people's version. It works most of the time, and it works fairly well, indeed.