I probably learned this once before now - but I find that some things just don't stick in my head until the eleventeenth time I 'learn' them.
くんよみ ー Japanese reading
おんよみ ー Chinese reading
Why the heck I couldn't understand this very important distinction is beyond me even as I write this. I was trying to figure out why I could always say certain kanji in one way but not another. I realize now that I usually learn verbs the Japanese way and nouns the Chinese way (in Japanese - go figure).
What I'm blogging about at the moment is not very important unless you're studying for a more advanced Japanese level and you haven't had this drilled into your head until now.
Learn the bloody Japanese way first. Other teachers may advise the opposite - but I part with their wisdom for a very basic reason - we're learning Japanese.
Had I learned all the Japanese readings first, I wouldn't have these half-words in my head where I know 歩行者 in the 'my part of the road' sense, but couldn't read it in it's phonetic purity. All I could interpret was 'walk go person'. It's precisely because I can interpret these three kanji's meanings (from learning the Japanese readings first) that I know I'm a pedestrian, and yes, the white stripes parallel to the cars is where I should be stepping.
Once you've got the meanings down - then go back and learn how to say it. In this case, ほこうしゃ。 Afterall, buri to you if you can say the Japanese word but I won't get hit by the cars.
Meanings > readings.