Okay, so this is a bit out of left field, but what's the best way to learn Chinese? I learned Spanish at age 28, so even though it seems basically impossible to learn another language so completely different at age 33, I think I'd like to try. At the bare minimum I can educate myself more on the culture and language in general which wouldn't be a bad thing. Especially since I think China is going to start playing a bigger role in the world prettty soon - everything from the Olympics to electronics to the *massive* numbers of mobile subscribers makes me really want to get a clue.
The problem is this doesn't seem like a task that I can just go down to Barnes & Noble and get a phrase book and start memorizing verbs. Or maybe it is, I don't know. But the whole non-Latin thing has me a bit intimidated. I thumbed through some books the other day and checked out Wikipedia and completely blown away by the idea of not only having to learn new words, but having to vocalize something completely different and memorize a bazillion Chinese characters as well.
Have you done this? Where did you start? Did you take classes? Did you take classes here in the Bay Area? I had a tutor who I saw for two hours a day for 16 months in order to learn Spanish (and I got married to a Spanish woman and lived in Spain - but those weren't nearly as helpful as you'd think). It seems like here in the Bay Area, I should be able to easily find a tutor as well. I personally don't believe Language Classes help anyone. Either they go too fast, or too slow for me and I'm either bored or lost on the first day.