I’d like to pick up conversational Chinese while in China, in order to get around and order food. Hopefully interactive so it could stick better
When I started learning Chinese in 2009 Pleco was still the end-all-be-all Chinese learning app. The combination of Pleco flashcards, Chinese class, and a tutor to practice speaking and listening did the trick for me.
While in China, I highly recommend finding a language partner or a tutor. This is not only a great way to practice your language but also to meet a friend! I recommend asking friends for help finding a tutor as this will help eliminate some of the potential “stranger danger” (always a good idea to be cautious in my opinion).
Otherwise, there are now a prolific amount of apps you can download for little to no cost to learn Chinese, as well as online platforms, including Amanda App, Chinese Skill, Yoyo Chinese, Core Chinese, Chinese Pod, and more! Some programs, like ACC, even provide personalized skype tutoring sessions for learning Mandarin.
Each of these platforms have a slightly different approach/focus, so try them all out! You might even like using a combination of multiple apps. Jiayou!