This section contains affiliate links for what I feel are some of the best resources to learn Chinese out there.
If you’re just starting, I feel Rocket Chinese is one of the best programs out there. It combines the different areas of language learning (listening, writing, speaking, and repetition) into one tidy package with plenty of tools for you to measure your progress. This is the kind of supplement I wish I’d had when I first started. Combined with classroom study, I feel this program will get you to the level you need to be at to survive overseas.
My Chinese Classroom
Next thing I want to recommend are a series of books called “My Chinese Classroom (我的汉语教室 – 中级)”. These are labeled as intermediate books, but most of the content wouldn’t hurt a beginner if they wanted to jump right in. The reason I recommend this series is because of the audio materials included with each book. Listening to the recordings and then checking the transcript to see what you might have missed is a very helpful exercise.
Pimsleur Mandarin II
While very expensive, this series is very good for developing your listening abilities. I didn’t actually pay for it. But I have listened to both the Mandarin I and II programs. The audio materials are built on repetition, introducing new vocabulary, and then building upon the concepts that you’ve already heard. I feel it would be most helpful for someone after they’ve already established a book-learned basic vocabulary. That way they already have some idea of what all those words are. A pretty good exercise would include listening, then writing the sentences down in Chinese.The best thing about it is getting to hear Chinese in action while being supported by an English framework.