With a glance of the chart you can see the pattern and color design of the knitted/crochet fabric. Knitted projects are shown using a grid and symbols. Each box represents a stitch. Knitting charts are read from right to left on right-side rows and left to right on wrong-side rows. The first row starts on the bottom right. Each row is numbered.
In crochet work the chart is represented as a lacy-looking pattern. Crochet symbols are universal. The symbols resemble the stitch when it is crocheted. Now you will be able to crochet all those lovely Japanese chart patterns without the need to read Japanese. Crochet in the round starts in the center with an arrow. Straight rows are worked bottom to top and left to right.
When starting to use charts, go back and forth between the chart and written instructions. Do this until you become familiar with what the pattern is telling you. There is always a chart key that interprets the symbols.
Here are a few suggestions to make chart reading easier. Enlarge the chart you are working on. In knitting using stitch markers and a row counter are helpful. You may want to mask all the rows except for the one you are currently working. If you are working a solid colored project, use a different crayon to color in each type of stitch (knit, purl, yo…).
Once you become familiar with reading charts, your projects will go easier, and as a result faster.