1.379 Billion Chinese according to this search on Google: https://www.google.com/search?q=china+population. Would you like to be able to talk to this group of people in business or in life? Imagine getting to know this customer for your product development or business.
Let me tell you my Chinese learning journey:
I had a friend in high school who was an exchange student from Hong Kong. We met and became friends after a simple conversation on the school bus. We hung out in high school, took the same junior year classes, and when he went back home to Hong Kong, I visited him and some of my extended family for the first time before starting my first year at the University of Washington.
Hong Kong at that time was an exciting place for me as it was fast paced, foreign, and materially flashy. I spoke some elementary Cantonese Chinese, but could not read nor write Chinese. From this travel experience, I decided to take some courses in Mandarin at the University. When I graduated, I had taken up to 3 years of Mandarin courses, and spent a school summer session at Peking University, in Beijing China, and an internship in Taipei, Taiwan.
As with any language, it takes practice, usage, and repetition to learn. It also helps to immerse or travel and make use of that language. But what if you live here in the USA, and want to study a language? What options do you have?
Looking at Edx.org, we can do a simple search and read the summary of some great courses:
This is a pretty fun Chinese History and Cultural Series, called ChinaX, by Harvard University:
If you are looking for more advanced Chinese learning, I was using this site for a while for intermediate to advance courses a while back. Chinese Pod allows you to consume the content on your own schedule. Then follow up with an instructor using video follow-up with teachers:
They have a fun blog here: https://chinesepod.com/blog/
Try Edx.org for free, then if you are still excited and need more content go to ChinesePod.com and subscribe to a paid account. Before you do you can try their free sampler lessons: https://chinesepod.com/library/courses/free-chinesepod-playlist/6.
Go ahead, learn some survival Chinese! Learn to order food or say hello to your loved one! How do you learn a language?
Then find a conversation partner nearby via Craigslist, Meetup.com, or the University of Washington Language Exchange Program.
Tell me if these links and resources are helpful. Let me know if I overlooked some even better ones!