If you are interested in learning Mandarin, this page is regularly updated with my best current advice on how to learn.
#1 Tip – Mandarin Blueprint
I wish I could pay to work with a live tutor every day, and I wish I had the flexibility work-wise to do so. But I can't.
For my daily learning, the absolute best resource I've ever found, is Mandarin Blueprint. Luke and Phil have provided an amazing resource. What I particularly like is that they weren't native speakers. That might seem odd but it's very hard for a native speaker, no matter how good they are, to imagine what it's like for you to learn.
I've been learning Mandarin since 2008 and I know enough to tell you that Luke and Phil both are now both at a very high standard of fluency. And they are great at explaining how they learned, and what they found hard.
Their method for learning characters is intriguing. They call it the Hanzi Movie Method. It's based on some of the techniques you see from people who are outstanding at remembering vast amounts of information. As someone who had already learned nearly two thousand characters by rote, I have to say that I found their method refreshing. It can seem daunting to learn such a large number of words, but their methods make it much easier to do.
If you want to learn from Luke and Phil, you can use a coupon code that they have supplied me: GREG_20OFF
And full disclosure, yes as well as you getting a discount, they give me some credit if you use this code. But I truly believe that you won't find a better resource for learning, or I wouldn't tell you about it, no matter what I was offered.
#2 Amy He at iTalki
I have tried many live tutors over the years. (I have studied with several online Chinese learning companies and probably worked with 40 or more tutors over the years).
The best I have worked with, by far, is Amy He. I have loved working with Amy over the years, and when she moved companies, I sought her out to keep working with her.
At present, Amy is working through iTalki. I've found them fine to deal with. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.
Amy has limited available time but if you are able to get time allocated with her, you'll see what I mean.
I have been really determined to learn to speak, listen, and read Chinese well. While writing Chinese characters on a computer is relatively straightforward, learning to write them by hand gives you a much deeper understanding of them.
The best tool, by far, that I have found for learning to write characters is Skritter. They have gamified the learning, and I find myself improving constantly. Sorry, but I don't have any sort of code to offer you from them. One day soon, I'll ask if there's a discount I can pass on, but in the meantime, you can find them here.
Over the years, I have worked with many other tools and services. I will add details about them here soon.