Joined: Nov 24 2007
You really should find someone to help you, maybe a friend. You can practice with them, and maybe learn some sayings or slang that's hard to learn on your own. They can also tell you if you are pronouncing things properly, you might not know it if you aren't pronouncing it right.
when i started learning chinese, i had friends help me alot and i was only learning from them at first. Then i decided to start writing notes in a notebook for reference, but of only the important stuff. If you jot down everything, then it might be harder to remember or look up what's important. Then EVERY night, i would review it. and i would test myself on vocab. I would cover up the chinese and try to go from english to chinese.
Also, i found a chinese dictionary for my ipod touch, (it is also on iphone) called "qingwen", it works very well. If you are connected to the internet, then it can usually give you sample sentences, and it can pronounce the word for you by a native speaker. You'll be able to learn some of the chinese grammar from the sample sentences. But of course, if you use a dictionary, sometimes it's hard to know what's the "common" way to say something, a dictionary might give you an unusual word. Also the grammar is not hard in chinese, but some of it is much different than english, it might take awhile to get a hang of it. But i think the grammar is very logical.
When i am out walking or driving somewhere, i'll repeat a sentence or word that I've recently learned and concentrate on remembering it. When I learn new words, i'll try to use it a lot during that day and the following days. It might annoy your friends if you say it to them a lot, but you'll remember it.
Like learning any language, it will take hard work and dedication. Make sure you discipline yourself and "study" what you've learned.
Also, i think it does help if you learn how to read/write a little... at least it does for me.
I know some friends in china that i'll send messages to. I'll try to type in chinese. But on a computer, you just have to be able to recognize the words since you'll type using pinyin, much easier than hand writing it. Even if it takes awhile to write it because you have to look up words, it will help you learn new vocabulary and your friend can "fix" your sentence if it's not right. Through this sort of messaging, you will learn more commonly used words.
I think it is difficult to learn chinese if you don't have friends to help.