A descriptive study of two young children's emergent writing development

Sing Pui Tikky TO-CHAN

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


A growing understanding in young children’s early writing and ways of learning to write is in evidence in studies conducted over the past three decades. However, the main language feature investigated in most studies originates from the alphabetic system, English. With regard to a cultural-specific concern of learning a language of a very different system, namely the logographic, Chinese, few studies have been conducted. What specific characteristics and aspects typify children’s Chinese writing development in a regional language (Cantonese) setting such as Hong Kong? Basic research with regard to learning of other languages is essential for a greater understanding of young children learning to write. This paper reports on a descriptive study of two young children’s engagement in a school’s assigned free-writing activities. The children’s emergent writing development was traced over the period of a year when they were three years old. The study aims at identifying the developmental characteristics and distinctive sociocultural aspects of young children learning to write during the early years. Samples and processes of writing were collected every other month over the year in the natural setting of a kindergarten in Hong Kong. The young children’s emergent writing was analyzed with a focus to the form of Chinese character writing, and the process of meaning-making. Two major findings will be described. There are, first, the young children’s developmental changes with regard to psycholinguistic features, and second, discernible sociocultural aspects embedded in the process of writing. The findings contribute to a larger study aiming at investigating the developmental characteristics and sociocultural aspects of Chinese emergent writing in young children.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008


Chan, S. P. T. (2008, June). A descriptive study of two young children's emergent writing development. Paper presented at the 9th International Conference of the Association for Language Awareness, the University of Hong Kong, China.


  • Early Childhood Education
  • Development of Disciplinary Knowledge (e.g. Sociology, Psychology)


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