Adam_CLO wrote:3. There are a ton of free podcast courses out there that give you a ton of audio to listen to. One problem with them though is that they are level based - so one level might be for beginners while another might be for intermediate. As a result you may find over time that one level becomes too easy for you, while the next one is too difficult.
How true. Actually, the problem is that they need to be more
level based! That is, they need to have more graduated levels so that it's not such a quantum leap from one level to the next. I've said before that I think these other companies could fill in their offerings without too much trouble, but as it stands right now I'd recommend Adam's CLO series to a self-learning beginner over the many other useful series I've tried.
I do have two very concrete learning tips (to native English speakers) for everyday survival and practically getting around a Chinese speaking environment:
1) get as familiar as possible as early as possible with attributives. Because Mandarin doesn't have relative pronouns to identify and specify things relative to other things and times, I was unable to do that for longer than was necessary. It was a sudden big help to me in real life when I started focusing on getting fluent with using "de" in short and long attributive phrases.
2) Language started to flow much better for me, and people started understanding me much better after I studied the short section on "the overall rhythm of Chinese speech" in Yip's Chinese: A Comprehensive Grammar
. I've never seen such a basic aspect of language talked about anywhere else (in relation to Mandarin), whether from books or from teachers. I did go over rhythm with native speakers no problem, but none had ever self-consciously addressed this obvious feature when working with students. In my experience, if you continue to ensure (consciously or not) that your stress patterns maintain the boundaries of each term as we do in English, then your Mandarin comes out in fits and starts that make it klutzy in your mouth, and sometimes quite ambiguously confusing to your listener.
Adam_CLO wrote:the areas they emphasize aren't necessarily the areas we native English speakers need help with.
Wha? You're a native speaker of English, Adam? I would have guessed otherwise from the CLO recordings.