Chineasy is a website and a corresponding book, which teach you modern chinese through pictograms and visual semantics in very easy steps and from the smallest parts, the words, up to full phrases. And you can learn how they are written in chinese squiggles, how the written signs compose and much more helpful and interesting stuff around the structure of the chinese language.
I myself started just a few days ago and already could ask for some bread or where to sleep (if I had to leave for China any time soon). This method is pretty slick for learning the composition of words, the pattern of translation and the original writing in harmony with your original language; a brilliant way to build bridges between old an new knowledge. You want a little example? Here we go:
This pretty fella means rupture and composes from the building block symbols for mountain (basically an earthen trident) and twice night (which looks like a window with pulled down jalousie, because it’s dark outside). That’s because when a vulcano (= mountain) ruptures, it would cover the sky with ashes and turn day into night. Tadaa! Isn’t that chin-easy? 🙂