An exploratory study of the various ways that children read and write unknown Chinese characters

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Most psychological studies on the learning of Chinese characters assume that children can easily analyze a character into its semantic and phonetic radicals. Rather than this, the present study explores how 17 Grade One to Three children actually went about reading and writing a number of whole characters unknown to them. The major findings are: First, the children indeed were able to make use of the semantic and phonetic radicals to infer the meaning and sound of an unknown character. Second, a major problem of the children is to erroneously use a component other than the semantic radical to make inferences about the meaning of an unknown character. Third, the children on the basis of the sound of the phonetic radical mistook an unknown character as another character homophonous to the sound. Fourth, the children less often made use of their knowledge about the semantic radicals in the task of writing an unknown character than that of reading.
有關學習漢字的心理研究,一般都預設:兒童很容易就能夠把一個漢字拆分為義符與聲符。本研究摒除這樣的預設,以十七名小一至小三兒童為對象,探討他們究竟怎樣認讀與書寫陌生的完整字形。結果發現:一、兒童確實能夠運用字形中包含的部件,來猜測字義與字音。二、兒童分析字形的困難,其實是誤用並非義符的部件來推測字義。三、兒童也會誤以聲符的讀音,錯認字形為另一同音字。四、當兒童書寫字形時,亦較少運用自己已有對義符的知識。 Copyright © 2008 香港中文大學香港教育研究所.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-97
JournalJournal of Basic Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


Chinese Characters


Lam, H.-C. (2008). An exploratory study of the various ways that children read and write unknown Chinese characters. Journal of Basic Education, 17(1), 73-97.


  • Learning chinese characters
  • Semantic and phonetic radicals
  • Children's errors
  • Alt. title: 初探兒童認讀與書寫陌生漢字字形的各種方法