Most people find the thought of learning Chinese quite daunting. The total number of Chinese characters numbers in the tens of thousands and even basic literacy requires a knowledge of around 3,000.
So where does one start? Well, here is a chart of 100 useful Chinese characters to know. Once you learn to recognize just a few of these basic characters, you'll find yourself noticing them wherever you find Chinese writing.
Please note that the pronunciations given below are Mandarin (using Pinyin romanization) and when applicable, simplified characters are used instead of traditional.
(The above chart is just one small section of my Writing Systems of the World wallchart, which covers 2000+ symbols and 51 different writing systems!)