Learning the correct tones is obviously important if your goal is to speak at a high level of fluency, as these tones can change the meaning of the words.
But I've learnt 2 other very important factors :
1. If you speak rather quickly and if you sentences are grammatically correct, there is no real need to pronounce each single word perfectly.
In fact, if you speak quickly and emphasize the tone of last word only, there will be no real problem of communication.
2. The length of the vowels is as important as the tones, maybe even more !
For example : in Thai, "day" = "wan" and "sweet" = "waan".
The tones are different, but the length of the vowel "a" (like in "cat") is different too !
If you use the same neutral tone with these 2 words but emphasize the difference between the 2 "a", you will be understood with no real problem.
If you aim for a basic fluency in Thai (which is enough to deal comfortably with any kind of situations), use these 2 "hacks" and you will be surprised of the result !
But if your goal is to "master" Thai and sound like a native speaker, there is no shortcut : you will have to learn AND pronounce each single word perfectly.
My two cents........
I still have difficulties discerning tones and seem to rely a lot on context. Take for example food 食品 and video 视频. I find it difficult to hear the difference in normal speech and mostly infer the intended meaning by context.
2. replaying audio dialogue sentences and speaking over the top at the same time.
3. aichinese.com , practising full sentences.
June 12, 2012, 1:04 p.m.
"if we try to remember the tone of each word it is very difficult. "
I do not find it difficult to remember the tones of a word. Usually I know what tone it is. Sometimes when you speak at speed, it comes out wrong. I correct myself a lot. Speaking slower helps if you want to produce the tones without any mistakes.
I agree with Imirtseshem, the tones are not difficult. It just takes time and you get there at some point. It helps having a good ear though. You presumably can also detect minute differences when people speak. I found that helped me for tones.
I agree with Iaing and have done the same for 1 and 2.
I find that listening takes up some 80-90 percent for Chinese. I have come to the point that I like to point out when natives make tone mistakes, just to make sure my ear heard it correctly (for example listen to tv programmes and ask someone if I was right in what I heard). And yes they do make quite a few. Listen to Hujintao for example and spot the tone mistakes. It is much more fun to train the ear doing that! :-) . Such a relief that not even they get it right.
Then I underscore or circle the characters whose tones are not clearly pronounced. After analyzing the underscored or circled one, I only listen to the part which are pronounced relatively fast with many right tones. Occasionally I slow down some parts with a software in order to listen to them again and again. Finally, I repeat each phrase or sentence just after listening to one.
You can watch the following video to know how I shadow a text.
(I made this video some years ago, but my tones still have some problem now. My tutors correct some mistakes every time.)
Despite of all the efforts, I cannot read aloud an only chinese character text at sight although I can listen and repeat or shadow random sentences approximately. I need to read and listen to variety of texts.