Radical sensitivity is the key to understanding Chinese character acquisition in children

Xiuhong TONG, Xiuli TONG, Catherine MCBRIDE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticles

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study investigated Chinese children's development of sensitivity to positional (orthographic), phonological, and semantic cues of radicals in encoding novel Chinese characters. A newly designed picture-novel character mapping task, along with nonverbal reasoning ability, vocabulary, and Chinese character recognition were administered to 198 kindergartners, 172 second graders and 165 fifth graders. Children's strategies in using positional, phonological, and semantic cues of radicals varied across grades. The higher the children's grade level, the more commonly children used semantic and positional cues of radicals. Regression analyses showed that the contribution of semantic radical awareness for explaining Chinese character reading increased as children's grade increased, whereas the contribution of positional regularity awareness decreased. These findings suggest that learning Chinese characters involves a transition from a sound- and position-based approach to a meaning-based approach. Copyright © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1265
JournalReading and Writing
Volume30
Issue number6
Early online dateJan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Citation

Tong, X., Tong, X., & McBride, C. (2017). Radical sensitivity is the key to understanding Chinese character acquisition in children. Reading and Writing, 30(6), 1251-1265. doi: 10.1007/s11145-017-9722-8

Keywords

  • Radical awareness
  • Word reading development
  • Sublexical units
  • Semantic radical
  • Phonetic radical
  • Semantic–phonetic compound character

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