What is Mandarin?
Mandarin is the official language of China and Taiwan, derived from the dialect of Beijing but not itself a dialect, or regional variety of a language. The term Mandarin refers to the spoken language and more precisely the accent. One speaks Mandarin but writes Chinese. While the Cantonese dialect is more prevalent in older American Chinatowns, Mandarin is increasingly spoken in newer Chinatowns. China has only one written language using characters understood by anyone who is literate, but also many regional dialects like Shanghainese and Fukienese, which are unintelligible to Chinese from other regions.
Should I learn Mandarin or Chinese, or maybe other dialects?
Mandarin is "standard pronounced" Chinese. There is only one Chinese language while there are many different dialects. The writing system is all the same no matter what dialect you speak(the simplified/traditional character is another issue). All national television and radio channels speak Mandarin Chinese. In almost all univeristies in mainland and Taiwan, classes are taught only in Mandarin. So it's why some time an excellent master of Mandarin is a sign of education. So if you desire to learn Chinese, unless for some special reasons such as linguistics studies, it makes more sense to speak Mandarin Chinese in stead of a regional dialect.
Chinese characters are complicated, to learn Chinese must be impossible for me?
Learning no language is an easy thing and Chinese is no exception. Chinese characters do look complicated but in fact there is a system to combine and construct different strokes into a character, once you know some "construction element" it's only a matter of employing the right element in the right place, some people has good visual memory and they can learn Chinese characters very fast and to majority of us learning Chinese character is NOT difficult but it is a time consuming work. However the good news is that it's not obligatory to learn Chinese characters if you want to communicate in Chinese. Our Mandarin Quick Learn ProgramTM doesn't employ any Chinese characters, we used only pinyin.
What is pinyin?
Pinyin literally means "join (together) sounds" in Chinese and usually refers to Hanyu Pinyin (literal meaning: "Han language pinyin"), which is a system of romanization (phonetic notation and transliteration to roman script) for Mandarin. Pinyin was adopted in 1979 by the Chinese government. Pinyin is a very useful tool for entering Chinese characters into computers. The primary purpose of pinyin in Chinese schools is to teach Mandarin pronunciation. Many in the West are under the mistaken belief that pinyin is used to help children associate characters with spoken words which they already know, but this is incorrect as many Chinese do not use Mandarin at home, and therefore do not know the Mandarin pronunciation of words until they learn them in elementary school through the use of pinyin.
How to type Pinyin with tones on your computer?
You can either convert pinyin with an online tool or to integrate a Macro with Microsoft word. Visit Chineselearn.org for more information