Now that I'm able to keep my planes up I look back at how I started flying and I have the following tips:
Start with a cheap foam scratch build
This way you don't have to worry too much if you break something and you can easily fix it. I personally preferred my Blu Baby (check rcgroups.com) above the Multiplex Easy Star.
3 channel first, more channels later
Don't try an aileron plane from the beginning. It will only make things harder to grasp. A good starter plane has only the tail (elevator & rudder) and gas to control. Also a high wing trainer with dihedral is preferred. Keep these nice looking warbirds for later.
A good second plane would be a wing. Simply because of it's great flight characteristics, both slow and speedy. Only third plane should be some scale or more advantage airframe.
Throttle management for altitude
One of the first big lessons for me was that I wasn't supposed to use the elevator for altitude control. Instead I had to try and keep the plane as level as possible with the elevator and only use throttle management to control altitude.
If you give more power your plane is flying faster so more wind is going over the wings creating more lift. Hence altitude increases.
Elevator however only changes the attitude of your plane. How much it's pointing up or down. For low speed you might want to have it a bit more up.
Fly into the wind, air speed != ground speed
Also a great lesson here. It's not how fast you move relative to the ground that is important for the lift and altitude of your plane. Imagine a windy day. If you fly into the wind the wind is causing more airflow over the wing thus more lift on the same ground speed without wind.
This is a big advantage since you can fly a lot slower now with that same airplane. In fact the day I grasped the complete concept of the throttle for altitude was on a very windy day. I would advice people to begin on a somewhat windy day. Not a stormy day, you'll have to know how much wind your plane can handle. it should still be able to fly forward.
Practice slow flight
Once you can keep your plane up it's time to think about landing. For this you need to know the slow flight characteristics of your airplane. Practice on high altitude so you have time to recover.