I've been taking a look at tones in Mandarin. I'm getting to the point where there are characters that sound the same but have different characters. When I am talking with someone in Mandarin, I'm worried that I will have trouble understanding what they're saying because of this. Is there a way to differentiate the characters when you are listening to someone speaking?
As far as I know the only way to do understand is from context. It's not all bad though! Chinese has ways to deal with this. Mesure words are one example.
I would suggest that you practice sometimes by listening to Duolingo, instead of just reading the text. I do a mix of both reading and listing, and it helps me a lot.