What are the best ways of learning Mandarin Chinese? Me, as a Mandarin teacher, summarized a few ways which I think are useful for all Mandarin learners.
1. If you have the time, go to Beijing for a few months, it really helps you a lot, remember, you need to be there for a few months, at least 3 to 4 months, 2 to 3 weeks will not do you good for learning Mandarin, because you forget it very quickly! By immersing into this language, you will pick up the tones, language features very quickly.
2. If you can’t go to Beijing, or Mandarin speaking cities, then you should find a tutor and do intensive lessons with him/her, same as No.1, you should always put yourself into a immerse situation. Suggested study tip is having lesson with this tutor for 3 to 4 hours a day, Monday to Friday.
3. If you can’t find a tutor, or you want to study by yourself, (which I don’t recommend, because you are not that disciplined), then you can find a good book with a CD, listen to the CD and read the book at least 3 to 4 hours a day, just you best to remember as much as you can. The worst point to learn a language without a tutor is that you never know if your pronunciation is right or wrong, or it is difficult to find any grammatical mistake you make.
4. To learn Chinese, you have to learn the characters, this is actually a shortcut to master Chinese language.
5. To make sure you got the tones right, singing can help, always imagine that you are singing when you pronounce Chinese words, if you can make it exaggerate, do it!
6. Flashcards are helpful to remember the words and characters.
7. If you can, write a Chinese diary everyday, no matter how long it is, write as much as you can!
8. Read aloud your textbook, and listen to the CD sentence by sentence and repeat afterward.
9. Always take initiative to talk to people, making mistakes is a way to success.
10. If I were you, I would not take a break before I can speak this language, since once you stopped, it would be difficult to pick it up again.