Awareness of orthographic structure in children’s learning of Chinese characters

Ho Cheong LAM, Bik May Amy TSUI

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

Abstract

Most of the previous developmental studies on children’s learning of Chinese characters focus on age difference in their awareness of the functions of components in providing a clue to the meanings of characters. The present study takes a step further to investigate children’s awareness of the orthographic structures of characters and the implications of their development. This study used pseudo-characters formed by different combinations of components. There was the same component located in different positions in the orthographic structures of these pseudo-characters. 425 children in Grade 1 to 4 from 3 primary schools in Hong Kong were invited to a test to analyze these pseudo-characters. The results show that these junior children did not fully understand that a component only provides a clue to the meaning of a character when it is located in a certain position in the specific orthographic structure of the character and that the orthographic structure cannot be interpreted arbitrarily. Meanwhile, this study also found that children’s awareness of the orthographic structures, regarding the function of components in providing a clue to the meanings, improved across grade levels. A developmental progression was observed with statistical significance. The awareness of the orthographic structures of characters is essential for children to fully make sense of how these characters are structured to denote their meanings and therefore, further investigation is worth more attention.
先前探討學童學習漢字的發展研究,一般只注意到學童對於「部件具有提示字義功能」的覺識能力之年齡差異,本研究則進一步探討學童對於「漢字結構」的覺識能力,並且探討其所具有的發展意義。本研究以同一部件、但因位置不同、組合方式不同所形成的不同結構之假造漢字,請425名來自三所香港小學一至四年級的學童進行辨識,結果發現這些初小學童尚無法完全正確掌握「漢字當中,只有特定位置的部件及組合方式,才具有提示字義的功能,而不能隨意準用」之要領。同時,本研究還發現,學童這種「覺識到部件的位置及組合方式,與其所具提示字義的功能有所關聯」之能力,有隨著年齡增長而提升的趨勢,而且此一趨勢達到統計上的顯著水準。這種對於漢字結構的覺識能力,是學童能夠掌握漢字部件組合的原理、進而正確理解字義的基礎,值得繼續深入研究。 Copyright © 2013 教育研究與評鑑中心 & Airiti Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-111
JournalContemporary Educational Research Quarterly
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

Citation

Lam, H.-C., & Tsui, B.-M. A. (2013). Awareness of orthographic structure in children’s learning of Chinese characters. Contemporary Educational Research Quarterly, 21(3), 83-111.

Keywords

  • Orthographic structure
  • Learning Chinese characters
  • Awareness of semantic radicals
  • Recognizing characters
  • 漢字結構
  • 漢字學習
  • 形旁表義覺識
  • 認讀漢字
  • Alt. title: 學童對於漢字結構的覺識能力

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