If you don't speak Mandarin, it can be a bit of a challenge communicating in China. However, I found that when I sought out younger people, more often than not they were able to speak enough English that they could at least point me in the right direction.
It was also extremely useful to have a guidebook that included chinese characters for words. If my poor attempt at trying to speak the words phoentically didn't work, I could at least point to the chinese characters for the word in my guidebook and it usually helped clear things up.
In addition to learning the words for hello (ni hao) and thank you (xie xie), i also found it useful to learn "no" (bu xie) because there are A LOT of street vendors who can get somewhat aggressive.
You are going to need a Beijing map.
Don't wait till you get here to get one, buy it before you come here.
They are had to find in foreign languages apart from 1 or 2 book stores in Wangfujing Dajie.
The Badaling section of the Great Wall is 42 miles / 70 kilometres northwest of Beijing. Once you get outside the city and onto the highway, it's about an hour trip.
You can hire a taxi or contact a tourist office to get there, but you'll have to negotiate the price before.