quite an amusing article about learninig Chinese, advised by Emlyn, a Welshman in Singapour and my classmate at Tsinghua last semester.
I don't quite agree with M. Watts though. The tones are indeed difficult in the beginning, but characters are hell! After a year and a half in Beijing, I can now speak quite decently, can read almost all the characters I know, but just can't write them!! Without constant practising, I forget how to write the most simple characters, although recognising them is not a problem... It's more than frustrating not to be able to read or even pronounce words because you don't know the character.
But still, it's a great experience, the Chinese are warm-hearted, very practical indeed, but also have lots to teach us!