I've now studied Mandarin for two years and about two and half months in a formal classroom situation. It's tough studying it in country that's not China, however, I've think I've reached the tipping point. The point where input becomes spontaneous comprehension. Of course this is only within my vocabulary range, but I can understand if there's a new word when someone speaks. After two years, before this year's studies started, I felt inadequate with my Chinese; I could read and write a bit, but my listening and speaking was terrible.
Why have I reached the tipping point now?
Now, in third year Chinese, our lecturer has decided to talk almost 80-90% of class in Chinese. This has helped tremendously with my listening, although I might get used to his accent, this is paramount. We've also gotten homework assignments that consist of 13 pages of Chinese, most of the vocabulary unknown, that we have to work through and then answer questions on it. Another addition was our optional speaking class. It just crazy that if you focus on communication, how all your knowledge starts slipping into place. I've since written three class tests, and my progression has been: 69%-> 76% -> 87%. It's going to be hard to top 87%, but it's great to see the progress. Our assignments are based on a popular Chinese series, that our 老师 has given us. I'm currently watching it. Now this is just my classroom interaction.
I've since gone on a hunt for additional resources. This includes Anki Flashcards, extra books that teach specific vocabulary (reading one on IT now) and using QQ to talk to random Chinese friends. QQ, in this regard, helps a lot. I would definitely recommend getting QQ, as your constantly in the reading, translating vibe. Another resource is Social Mandarin.
The tipping point feels amazing. I'm finally comprehending Mandarin spontaneously, obviously not fluent though. I'm feeling the language in my life. When people ask me things, or have I just talk to my friends, I often want to talk in Mandarin. Sometimes I just do it, then they frown and I reply normally. Now, I'm just waiting for more dreams in Mandarin.