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How about someone visiting China in the next few months, who does not understand their language? Is there a way to learn common words and sentences with the correct pronunciation quickly?

Thanks in advance.

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I'm a Chinese. If you only stay in city, most young people can speak English. If you can live in youth hotel, their worker can help you a lot. You can book youth hotel in YHA China. And you will meet many travellers there, you can do anything together. – worldask Aug 31 '14 at 4:46

It's difficult for westerners to master the four tones in a few days, but if you have a few months, you can try! It's also difficult to learn how to read Chinese characters, but you can memorize some common words in a few days, such as restaurant, hotel, supermarket, museum, park etc, so that you can know where to go (most places have English signs in Beijing & Shanghai). In Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, you don't need to worry about the language barrier because most young people there can talk with you in English.

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There are several books that are aimed at travellers with a short time to learn some basic words before they travel. I'm pretty sure I used a book called, I Can Read That before my second trip to China, and it had things like the characters for man 男 and woman 女 so you can find the right toilet. My big triumph on that trip was that I read a sign that said 天安门, and I recognized that it was pointing the way to Tiananmen square.

Good luck on your trip.

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A combination of things worked pretty well for me. As early as possible, download "Chinese Lite" phone app. It's free and 6 categories of basic words, phrases, questions and answers are free, including "General Conversation," "Numbers," Directions & Places," "Transportation," and "Eating Out." At first, it will seem that the speaker talks way too fast, but if you keep playing them over and over, you will catch on to a few before your departure. Also download "Chinese Radicals" and start learning to recognize the radicals. It's a free game that will test your memory of them with multiple choice answers. Play the game during your flight: learn simple signs that you see around you, like "Exit" (2 stacked mountains + a mouth). On arrival, imitate the sounds of words you'll say a lot (hello, excuse me, tasty). I fell in love with street dumplings, so I learned "Jiao zi" the second day! I think the keys are repetition & imitation, and feeling free to write down your own phonetic clues.

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