Phonetic components, part 1: The key to 80% of all Chinese characters

At least 80% of all Chinese characters are made up of one semantic component (meaning) and one phonetic component (pronunciation). The sheer number of characters formed this way means that these characters ought to be taught properly, yet I think this topic is largely glossed over. This is the first article of two dealing with phonetic components and how they can help you learn Chinese better.