One of the best ways of learning a language is through immersion. This means that you should surround yourself with as much Chinese as possible. Of course, this is easier to do if you live in a Chinese-speaking environment, but that's not a prerequisite, you can create an immersion environment in your home as well.
There are many ways of increasing your daily dose of Chinese, one of them involves switching your computer's language to Chinese.
Using a computer in Chinese the first time can be scary. If you're already familiar with the computer you're using and the programs installed on it and have already acquired basic reading ability, switching your computer to Chinese is the natural next step.
Here are some benefits with setting your computer's language to Chinese:
You get used to reading Chinese characters every day, all the time
You learn common words without really studying, review comes automatically
You won't feel lost when you use computers in China
You will be able to talk about computers and software in Chinese
You gain access to lots of programs and applications that are only available in Chinese
For this to work, you need to have already learnt some Chinese, otherwise it will simply be too hard. However, with basic reading ability and some extra time, you should be able to overcome most problems.
How to switch your computer to Chinese
This will obviously depend on what operating system you're running, but on most computers it's easy to change language settings. You can simply search for the name of the operating system plus Chinese language support will give you dozens of excellent guides.
A little bit of studying does it
One of the advantages with switching your computer to Chinese is that it allows you to learn new things without actually studying. This is true, but only up to a point. If you study a little bit, you will learn more than if you don't. If you don't understand what something means, look it up and write it down! However, be careful, you shouldn't look everything up. An operating system contains thousands of words and most of them aren't very common. Only look up words that you actually need.
Staying focused on the language
If your computer is set to Chinese, it's likely that you will find yourself in the following situation after a while: You don't actually read the characters. You know which button is save, which one is copy and which one is paste, perhaps because of the ordering in the menus or the icons displayed.
To force you to learn Chinese, you can try using your computer in Chinese aloud. Yes, read everything you do aloud. Say "复制 (fùzhì)" when you copy something, "粘贴 (zhān tiē)" when you paste and so on. Of course, you can't do this all day, but do it now and then when you feel like it. This is derived from the general concept that vocalizing helps you process the language more actively.