Novel character reconstruction exercise through component learning enhances holistic character processing and orthographic awareness

Ricky Van Yip TSO, Wing-lam Christina LEE, Wai-ming CHEUNG, Terry Kit-fong AU, Janet Hui-wen HSIAO

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Holistic processing has been suggested to be a behavioral marker of expertise in face and visual object processing. Experts of Chinese character recognition, yet, showed a reduced holistic processing in Chinese character recognition (Hsiao & Cottrell, 2009), which was modulated by extensive writing experience (Tso, Au, & Hsiao, 2014). Tso, Au & Hsiao (2012, 2013) revealed an initial increase in holistic processing of Chinese characters in beginners learning to read Chinese orthography, and suggested that sensorimotor reproduction of Chinese characters allows experts to be attentive to local orthographic structures of Chinese characters, which later reduced holistic processing. Here we conducted a training study aiming to investigate whether second-language Chinese learners explicitly reconstructing Chinese characters with the utilization of character component stickers would induce similar effects as writing experience – leading to a perceptual change in Chinese character recognition. We found that both training through component-learning and whole-character recognition, but not copying, enhanced orthographic awareness and holistic character processing. It seems that learning to form a mental categorical representation of Chinese characters enhances holistic processing, which is the initial stage of the development of expertise in Chinese character recognition. Component learning echoes the effect of copying in enhancing dictation performance, but it also enhances orthographic awareness while copying alone does not. Thus, we argue that the increase in holistic mental representation of Chinese characters among beginning learners might mark the initial stage of acquiring expertise in Chinese character recognition. The result of this training study also suggests character reconstruction through component learning as an alternative Chinese character learning strategy, in addition to extensive writing and copying, to benefit emergent Chinese readers. Copyright © 2016 Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016



Tso, R. V. Y., Lee, W.-L. C., Cheung, W.-M., Au, T. K.-F., & Hsiao, J. H.-W. (2016, July). Novel character reconstruction exercise through component learning enhances holistic character processing and orthographic awareness. Paper presented at The Twenty-Third Annual Meeting Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal.


  • Chinese
  • Face processing
  • Intervention
  • Writing development
  • Orthographic learning