The 4 Mandarin Tones
Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language. Meaning, the way a syllable is pronounced in terms of sound and tone changes its meaning. For example, the syllable "ma" can mean "horse," "mother," "scold," or "hemp" depending on which tone is used.
Mastery of the four Mandarin tones is the essential first step to learning this language. The four Mandarin tones are high and level, rising, falling then rising, and falling. You must be able to pronounce and understand the Mandarin Tones.
Once you have learned the tones, you can start learning new vocabulary and phrases while learning pinyin
Romanization. Reading and writing Chinese characters is the last step.