If you don't know these basics, you should make a trip to your local radio shack store.
Just stare at the racks of parts and take notes. (The jokers who work there won't know much more than you anyway!).
Buy a "Getting started in electronics" book, or go to the library and check out one.
A "POT" is a variable resistor (Like a volume control or tone control)
The ones in your tape deck will be small (Button sized) and will have a little slot for a screwdriver. Just don't touch anything else.
If you are interested in recording and audio in general, basic electronics is important. Soldering skill is almost a must!