Does the job.
Written Chinese is ancient barbarism.
I'm going to rant on some of the problems it has, with occasional glib solutions.
I understand that using pinyin was considered and declined back in the 40s. I still think using roman characters is probably the best solution, but let's play with the restriction of using most of the existing characters.
This is primarily for Chinese, but applies to the various non-Latin middle-eastern and far-eastern scripts.
This is basically just a bunch of rough notes for now.
I'm very far away from getting into this, but I may as well put up a placeholder page for it.
Word in Chinese are not entirely synonymous with single Chinese characters.
Chinese characters are not entirely unique, but share common traits with other characters.
In many cases, Chinese is a totally alien language compared to English. Some of the sounds are similar, but the tongue is in a different position.
The most unfortunate problem is that pinyin wasn't designed to solve pronunciation but was created to provide jobs to linguists. There's only a confusing match between phonetically-written English and pinyin, and a beginner will be easily overwhelmed.
So I'm going to do the work to describe, as best I can, various pinyin pronunciation items. I'm also going to develop a better way to phonetically write Chinese so my pronunciation learning curve isn't so steep. I think I'll look into the International Phonetic Alphabet as well.
Learning by ear is, of course, perfectly reasonable. I would recommend it. However, thinking long-term.. separately memorizing the pronunciation of every individual word is pretty ridiculous. Keep in mind that Chinese people don't have a consistent language, and I wouldn't bet there's a lot of consistency on pronunciation. Learning things "properly" with a universally-applicable skill would be best in the long-run.
Highly recommended - Mnemonics, multiple pictures for stroke order and details for each character's difficulty level give this book a completely different approach from the others I own.
Feel free to change the Amazon.com URL from .com to your language of choice. Odds are good that it'll be available from another amazon.foo website.