How to Learn Mandarin Chinese Language
Near the end of 2005 I finally took the initiative to learn to speak Mandarin, which is the official Chinese dialect spoken in China, as well as learn to read and write Chinese characters. I opted to hire a tutor in Seattle who could help me in this pursuit. In September 2006, I went to China for 2 weeks, where I found out that my Chinese was good enough to get around, but not good enough to get by. In the summer of 2007, I went to China for 6 weeks, studying Chinese 4 hours a day 5 days a week. By the end of that trip, I spoke Chinese better than 95% of people in the United States (maybe more), but I still needed work. Another month or more in China would have made a dramatic difference in my ability to speak Chinese, but that wasn't in the cards.
Since I don't have regular access to speak to people in Chinese, I'm constantly looking for tools to keep my Chinese from going stale in my mind. Most recently I ran across the Rhythmic Mandarin series in iTunes. Most of what's there is already part of my vocabulary, but I can't help thinking this would be an ideal solution for anyone who wants to ramp up to learning to speak Mandarin quickly because it uses a fairly unique approach to language learning, based on The Third Ear by Chris Lonsdale.
Rhythmic Mandarin is an amazingly catchy method for language learning, combining music and spoken phrases into context that makes it easy to learn. I think the key for me that sets Rhythmic Mandarin apart from other language learning audio tools I've seen is that they effectively chunk phrases in ways you would expect to hear them in conversation, rather than trying to focus entirely on whole sentences or just bombarding you with vocabulary.
I wish I had found this years ago, because it would have made my Chinese language learning much easier. You can order CD versions at Amazon.com, but I recommend you download Rhythmic Mandarin as MP3 files, because you can easily take them with you anywhere. The MP3 files are ready for your iPod, Zune or any other player. The methodology strips away the confusion of learning a language and makes it seem quite simple.