I developed a compelling interest in Mandarin after seeing the comedy Xizao (with subtitles) I thought it was on the same level with any great Hollywood classic and I loved the Northern sound of spoken Mandarin.
Several years ago I took a level one Basic Mandarin class taught by a Native speaker from Taiwan. She was so strict! At that time my pronounciation with in my level one vocab was pretty good.
Native speakers easily understood what I was saying. Now they have to ask me to repeat myself. Time to get back on track.
On the other side of the coin I love teaching English. Right now I am taking time off from my work in the USA to travel China with tourboarding.com ( a website which links native speakers with people in China who have a spare room and want to improve their target language - in this case English