*Note:The Chinese Language OpenCourseware (OCW) Learning modules I am linking through in this page, are properties of the MIT, USA and are Copyright-protected. Please do not make illegal copies of the documents for sale or distribution, thanks now off we go..
I will be introducing to you, now, the OCW(OpenCourseware) that MIT offers for FREE online which is a FREE+unique Chinese language learning. I'm sure you and I and the rest of the world could benefit from this. But before that, let's "touch" on the important aspects of learning the basics of the language.
Learning Mandarin is challenging and fun. Before you travel to China, you should (although not a must) study the basics first. As an alternative, you could try to use "body language" anytime you need to express something or try to use your pocket dictionary (try a digital handheld) and show the Chinese character meanings of what you want to say, express or bargain for. But there's no big ROI (Return of Investment) better than learning the basics of Mandarin, and the basics are very useful in:
Shopping - you need to save the "bucks" and you need to learn how to count from 1 to 10 at least, before you can do a successful bargain of things.
Eating - you need to eat and survive. Start learning the Chinese meanings of your usual eats. Study a simple menu.
Living - we all need shelter to continue our networking in China - learn the basic things that a home needs, ex. fridge, chair, air-condition, bed, door keys, telephone, emergency numbers and others.
Loving - if you're like me who need a partner in China : )= you need to get to know how to say the basics of "courting", start from the "Hello World" of any "courting" language - "I Love You!" : ) then learn the other "sexy" words before "jumping" in, ahem, well, you know where...
Alright! enough you say, let's sum it up.
In plain and simple words, here are my recommendations:
Start from the basics
Enroll in a school only if you have the budget
Hire a private tutor if you don't have time to attend school and have more budget.
Learn on your own - that's what I am doing up to now so...
Let me share with you this very special Chinese language learning site which I personally use if I have time to study. This is your most excellent time and money-saving "Chinese language study room and library" - no need to purchase books, no commitments and you even enjoy fast-high-quality-learning through the FREE accompanying text and videos!
BUT before you start DAY 1, tell our friends at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that Almario of SouthChinaTravelGuide.com sent you there : ) and please don't forget to come back here after your course, so I would know how you did with your studies, perhaps we could learn together.
Please don't forget to respect the Copyrights at MIT's OCW pages - good luck have fun and I'll wait for you right
CHINESE LANGUAGE CHEAP TRICKS: Use your judgement in your 'diggings' and researches. You can save time by skipping some PDF downloads which you think would eat more of your time than merely studying. Use your time management and study skills wisely. The best thing that comes with these lessons is China itself, meaning, if you are now living in China (even Hong Kong or Macau or Taiwan), you are in a better 'study' and research position as you have just acquired Gold! And saved thousands of dollars and monies and sanity in 'decoding' Mandarin for FREE. Goodluck and study, study, study, sleep, sleep, study, sleep, eat, eat, BUT don't forget to listen to BostonPete.com after your homework : ). It's just plain-fun to study through the MIT OpenCourseWare and we're glad to share the course links at MIT OCW with you! Feel free to visit this page anytime and
let me know what's on your mind. Let's not forget to dedicate this page to original author Julian K. Wheatley and the MIT Open Courseware team, our Mandarin heroes!
Final Notes: MIT OCW had changed the links again, we apologize on this, the best option would be to search the MIT OCW website with the queries: "Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin, Part I" or "Learning Chinese: A Foundation Course in Mandarin, Part II"