Whatever language one is learning, complete immersion in the host language and culture is ideal; therefore, it is ideal for a prospective Chinese language student to live and study Chinese in China for any extended period of time. However, for many, lack of time, lack of money, and other circumcumstances will make it very difficult for overseas study in the mainland.
There are some good options for studying Chinese, such as taking online courses and interacting with live native Chinese teachers. Taking language courses at a university or college is another great option. Check out your local institutions for more details on class start dates and curriculum.
Outside of the classroom setting, it is important to use and listen to as much Chinese as possible, so take advantage of an environment that provides you with the opportunity to interact with Mandarin Chinese speakers like at a Chinese club, a local Chinese church, etc. Listening to the Chinese radio station and watching movies in Chinese is a great way to practice your listening skills.
Finally, it is important to remember that you will get out only as much as you put in. Having a great teacher is very important, but it is up to the language student to do his/her part also. One last thing: don’t forget to have fun!