Learning Chinese is complicated, even though the grammar is simple and flexible.
The problem for foreigners is found in the four tones, flat or dipping, rising or falling. So each syllable
cannot be spoken; it must be sung. Also, hitting the wrong note produces the wrong word or gibberish.
The Chinese ear is accustomed to listening for the tones, not for piecing together syllables, as in the West.
As a result, unless one hits the exact tone, and I mean exact, then people will simply stare at you and wait patiently for
something more intelligible to emerge. We westerners are barbarians after all!
“Close” only counts in horseshoes, hand-grenades, and western and non-tonal languages.
There is an excellent website for learning Chinese here. Click on Free Mandarin and behold the building block approch.