Cpod and Popup are pretty much the “gold standard” for beginning Chinese, imo.
Anyone who tells you different is doing it wrong, as far as I can see.
The main trick is to download the mandarin(only) "dialogue files on to a mp3 player that has embedded lyrics display capability.
Listen, read, listen - to the mandarin(only) dialogues. Do this over and over. There is no better way (imo) to distill basic chinese phrasing deep into your brain/psyche/auto response - whatever you want to call it … you are never going to grow up as a child in China – but – listening to literally thousands and thousands of authentic short sharp dialogues is the next best thing.
The pedagogy (and the level of thought) put in to the phrasing of the lower level dialogues on cpod and popup is second to none. I challenge anyone to show me better…
I really pity it when new learners get told contrary to the above…
To begin Chinese this is what I would recommend :
1 - Learn good approaches to acquiring languages : eg, The Linguist Blog Book
2 - Always remember to cultivate your motivations for language learning -
其次， 我觉得应该充分利用你现在浪费的时间。 比如在开车和排队的时候听你的想学的语言。 别错过一个机会接触你想学会的语言。
那说话呢? 什么时候开始说话? 你自己决定吧. 还有别害羞，要大胆的说出来。
3 - To begin Chinese - personally, I’d recommend → download all beginner, elementary and intermediate dialogues (mandarin-only) and their transcripts (pinyin, characters and English) from Chinesepod.com and Popupchinese.com. Listen to them for as many hours a day as you can manage (for around 1k total hours listening). Listen, then read the transcript, then listen, and repeat over and over. I’d recommend always listening to a dialog attentively, first, before reading it’s transcript. Avoid any and all English audio, just stick with the Mandarin-only audio.
3a. Last but not least— During the initial stages – learn how to pronounce Chinese sounds correctly.
Lots of people learn Chinese these days – but nothing will separate you more than pronunciation (and then smashing out a thousand hours on authentic dialogs is the only real way to nail tones).
See — Chinese Pronunciation - Sinosplice
I’ve said enough. Too many people, with too few runs on the board dish out advice on lingq these days. Forum is not what it used to be