But I'm getting better everyday and I'm not afraid to shamelessly plug the people who are helping me.
(Click this Link. Go to Chinese Pod. Learn Putonghua. It is your destiny.)
Chinese Pod offers a ton of different services from written lessons to face to face (via internet) coaching in Mandarin Chinese (putonghua) but the basic format is a twenty minute pod cast "lesson" broadcast from Shanghai, China. It features Jenni and either John or Ken (it's John in the picture above) chatting for 20 minutes or so about something relevant to China and practicing putonghua or occasionally one of the other languages of China. The format is structured in levels so that you can find a pod cast teaching not only what you want to learn but also teaching it at a level you can understand. I still do best with "newbie" but am now taking on some "intermediate" podcasts. Putonghau means nothing when you start and a lot by the end of the first week.
What makes it great? Chinese Pod rocks because it's hip and interesting and very funny. Jenni reports that one of her favorite pass times is grocery shopping. Ken responds, "Oh for the love of God, why?" One caller left a message asking for Jenni's phone number. Chinese Pod responded with an audio clip from the rock song, "Dream On." These guys are funny and they really know their putonghua! If you'd listen anyway because it's funny, it makes learning a lot easier.
I started out listening to the "other guys" dare I say Pimsleur. "Now repeat after me 400 more times: 'Nide lao poa shi zhikong gu." but I was going no where. Now I keep about 20 Chinese Pod lessons on my MP3 player. It's faster, more contemporary and much much funnier. If Pimsleur is chicken nuggets, then Chinese Pod is Peking Duck.
I've been having a facebook message exchange with the guys at Chinese Pod and they told me I should "shout it from the rooftops" so here goes.
*Shouts* Chinese Pod kicks Pimsleur's ass!