I’m always going on about the importance of tones, emphasizing that Chinese learners need to spend more time studying tones, even if it means spending less time on characters (here). Some might even accuse me of being a broken record. Others may imagine me to be a pronunciation practice machine who only pays attention to tones and sounds, while neglecting grammar, characters or other aspects of the Chinese language. In reality, my philosophy is pretty simple.
Balance is key
People needs proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals in their diet, and Chinese learners need to frequently meet their study requirements: grammar, characters, vocabulary, listening and pronunciation. If you’re skimping on pronunciation and gorging on characters, your Mandarin Chinese won’t be healthy.
Ideally, one should learn Chinese in a balanced manner. I beat the drums for pronunciation, because it’s neglected: too many people skimp on the pronunciation part of the language diet.