A phenomenographic study of the learning and teaching of Chinese characters to non-Chinese speaking preschool children

Po Kuen Emmy NG

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


In Hong Kong children aged 4-6 years old are taught Chinese characters writing in local preschools. Non-Chinese speaking (NCS) preschool children are affected by the differences between their mother language and Chinese when they are given similar Chinese writing exercises in the preschools. This study aimed to investigate how Chinese preschool teachers taught Chinese characters writing in local preschools and how NCS preschool children learnt to write Chinese characters in an authentic classroom. Three parts of ‘Object of Learning’ were employed in this phenomenographic study. The first part was ‘Intended Object of Learning’, in which data were collected through semi-structured interviews with participating teachers. It aimed to study the teachers’ understanding of the teaching of character writing to the preschool children. The second part was ‘Enacted Object of Learning’, whose data were recorded by the researcher about how the teachers implemented their character writing activities in the class. The third part, ‘Lived Object of Learning’ concerned how the NCS children, who were 5 to 6 years old, performed after they had experienced the character writing activities.
This study investigated the mentioned experiences of teachers and NCS children of upper level in 3 local preschools. A total of 4 preschool teachers and 12 NCS preschool children participated in this present study. The time period was twice a week, especially during their daily Chinese character writing demonstration times, for twelve consecutive weeks. The researcher used various methods to collect data, including video- and audiotaping, field notes, photographic documentation, collection of lesson plans and interviews.
The findings were compiled using ‘Categories of Descriptions’, which reflected the preschool teachers‟ and NCS preschool children’s ways of seeing Chinese characters writing in their daily classroom experiences. In the first part of the findings five teachers’ conceptions from their understanding (Intended Object of Learning) were identified, and they are (1) to use characters in daily lives, (2) to understand the structure of characters, (3) to foster children’s interest in writing characters, (4) to help children build self-confidence, and (5) to promote the Chinese culture. In the second part of the findings four teachers’ conceptions from their enactment (Enacted Object of Learning) were identified. The four conceptions are (1) to provide a meaningful context for children to connect with their classroom experience, (2) to analyze the structure of written characters, (3) to demonstrate how to write characters inside square frames, and (4) to provide the opportunities for children to participate in the writing demonstrations on the whiteboard. In the third part of the findings three children’s conceptions from their perspectives (Lived Object of Learning) were identified. The three conceptions are (1) to be able to connect with their daily lives, and (2) to complete the tasks assigned by the teachers, and (3) to be integrated into the identity group. The result of this study can enhance educational practitioners‟ understanding of the teaching of Chinese character writing to NCS preschool children in local preschools. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • LAM, Ho Cheong 林浩昌, Supervisor
  • TAM, Po Chi, Pansy 譚寶芝, Supervisor
Award date10 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Phenomenography
  • Character writing
  • Preschool children
  • Teaching and learning
  • Alt. title: The research project of a phenomenographic study about the learning and teaching of Chinese characters to the non-Chinese speaking preschool children
  • Alt. title: 在幼教課室的非華語幼兒的中文學習與教導之現像圖析學研究
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2016.


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