First of all, it depends on what do you want to learn? Listening & Speaking or Reading and Writing? Of course, the purpose and scenario is also important, for business conversation or social interaction?
For example, if you are a business man and you wanna learn some simple commercial sentences like how to negotiate the price in Chinese (Mandarin). The first thing you need to learn is the unit of numbers. One significant difference between English and Chinese in amount is that there is no “ten thousand” or “one hundred thousand” in Chinese, we use “wàn” and “ten wàn” respectively. Once you know this, you can go to a Chinatown nearby and practice it with any native Chinese sellers. During that process, not only can you be familiar with the usage of correct unit, but also enjoy the bargaining fun.
By the way, there are numerous on-line resources that can help you to learn Mandarin or Chinese at home as long as you have a computer and internet. What’s even better, some of them are totally FREE or have a FREE trial! I will share three of them to you now as followed, and the snapshots of these websites are also attached for your reference.
1. U.S. Chinese Culture Center – FREE basic textbooks and audio/video files
2. Rocket Chinese – FREE 6-Day interactive audios + grammar/culture lessons
3. My Chinese Tutor – More than 30 FREE on-line speech correction lessons
I sincerely hope these are helpful for you to study Mandarin or Chinese by yourself.