I have tried to learn Chinese in the past, to no avail ( using other methods, of course ). It was incomprehensible. I quit almost immediately, convinced that the efforts were exercises in futility. I no longer believe that. The Michel Thomas method is fantastic! It makes learning the language as painless as it can possibly be. There is absolutely no confusion. Go thru the CD just one time, and you will have a good handle on the tones used in Mandarin, you will have learned a handful of useful sentences and most importantly, the knowledge sticks! No small feat for one as scatter-brained as I. In my opinion, Start Mandarin Chinese is an excellent first step in learning Chinese. Highly recommended.