I had a coffee and a chat with friends. We were talking about his boss who is not keen in his career and just focus on the stock market. My friend, as a lazy subordinate, go to study putonghua suddenly. He kept asking me how to learn it well. The most critical problem is that he does not know to how to read it correctly.
In fact, when we learn any language, we still follow the old rules. Listen more, speak more and write more. It is lucky that the official written form of our mother language is same as the one of putonghua. We should save effort on it compared with the foreigners. However, there had been some foreign professors who can teach us Chinese culture in fluent putonghua. Their putonghua level is much higher than ours.
In order to speak putonghua well, we must go back to the written form as the starting point. The second step is to solve the reading problem. Of course, dictionary can save us. Besides that it can help us if we use pinyin input method to enter Chinese characters. It can keep to train myself when I do not speak in putonghua. However, the pronunciation cannot be kept because it is not strictly required in the input method. Thus it is better to keep reading it.
The third step is to listen more. For example, CCTV, they speak in Beijing version of putonghua which is the base reference of the official putonghua. At the same time, we can learn the vocabularies. It is similar to listen BBC news to learn English. Both agencies have high standard on pronunciation and word choosing. Remember that we have different vocabulary set even though we write Chinese characters. For example, hotel (酒店 vs 飯店),mobile phone (移動電話 vs 流動電話), taxi (公共汽車 vs 出租車).