The ABC’s of Chinese: Maternal mediation of Pinyin for Chinese children’s early literacy skills

Catherine MCBRIDE-CHANG, Dan LIN, Phil D. LIU, Dorit ARAM, Iris LEVIN, Jeung Ryeul CHO, Hua SHU, Yuping ZHANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)


In the present study, maternal Pinyin mediation and its relations with young Chinese children’s word reading and word writing development were explored. At time 1, 43 Mainland Chinese children and their mothers were videotaped on a task in which children were asked to write 12 words in Pinyin (a phonological coding system used in Mainland China as an aid to reading Chinese characters) with help from their mothers. The videotapes were later coded on a scale (adapted from Aram & Levin, 2001) of mothers’ writing facilitation techniques. Scores on this scale of maternal mediation of Pinyin uniquely explained children’s reading of Chinese words, but not writing of Chinese words, after statistically controlling for maternal education and age, and children’s non-verbal IQ, age, and phonological awareness. At time 2, 22 of the children from time 1 were further tested on Chinese word reading and word reading task 1 year later. After controlling for children’s age and non-verbal IQ, maternal Pinyin mediation uniquely explained 6% of the variance in children’s word writing and 7% of the variance in children’s word reading performance at time 2. Results underscore the potential importance of the maternal scaffolding role for reading acquisition both theoretically and practically in a domain not previously explored (i.e., use of a common coding system (Pinyin) for learning to read, rather than word reading itself). Copyright © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-300
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012



McBride-Chang, C., Lin, D., Liu, P. D., Aram, D., Levin, I., Cho, J.-R., et al. (2012). The ABC’s of Chinese: Maternal mediation of Pinyin for Chinese children’s early literacy skills. Reading and Writing, 25(1), 283-300.


  • Word reading
  • Word writing
  • Pinyin
  • Maternal mediation