I have been studying Chinese off and on for awhile now with little progress. Matter of fact I'm picking up sign language a lot easier than Chinese. One of the tools that I have come across that has helped me the most is Chinese pod. Since getting the referral for Norah I have been listening to it during the day at work on an MP3 player. I work alone so it is not a problem to have it playing all day.
At Chinese pod they help you with the language but an added benefit is they tell you about Chinese culture at the same time. I have a long way to go but I am finally starting to pickup some phrases and understanding some of the words they are saying before they break down the dialog. If you haven’t seen Chinese pod yet you can check them out here.