Best way to study Mandarin at home, when I can spare 4 hours a day for 2 ½ months?
I’ve got about two and a half months until Baby CruiseSavvy is born, and am keeping a fairly relaxed schedule until then. I’d like to make good use of my time, and have settled on studying Mandarin as something that will be “constructive” and intellectually interesting.
I’m starting from a pretty basic level. I took a semester of Mandarin in college, which was a long time ago. For example, Chinese language television or even super-basic audio is completely lost on me. But I’m at least familiar with tones and how to look up characters in a dictionary.
Ideally, I’d like:
- Something I could do at home (waddle, waddle), and continue (though probably with less time) after the baby is born.
- ONE course/approach that I can focus on and that builds progressively, a one-stop-shop. Sets of disparate vocabulary lists and audio tapes and grammar books tend to frustrate me. Also, especially since I’m starting from a pretty basic level, I think I need something more structured than just a tutor who happens to speak both English and Mandarin. (I’ve had some bad language teachers waste my time in the past. I really want to avoid this.)
- Focus on the spoken language, though I’m open to studying simplified characters.
Money is an object, but not an insurmountable one. I couldn’t afford to hire a (good) tutor to come to my house, for example. But I could spend a few hundred dollars or more, especially if I saw something worked well for me. (I.e., I’d rather spend $100 and see that something’s good, then another $100 and see progress, then another, etc. … rather than $500 up front.)
I’ve looked through past MeFi posts
and seen the recommendations for ChinesePod.com, but it’s not clear to me if it’s good as a one-stop-shop (which I really want) as opposed to just a set of supplements. Rosetta Stone also looks like it could be good. But I’d especially love to hear from people who have tried different options, and what you think of them as a primary resource.
Any suggestions? Xie xie!