The conception of Chinese characters in young children


Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


In order to read a Chinese script, children must be able to distinguish characters. A character is characterized by its squareness in shape, complex strokes, and unique stroke-patterns. Evidence has been found that children at an early age are aware of the print in the environment, and are familiar with the features of written language. One hundred children, age 5-9, were required to decide if a list of pseudowords and nonwords can be accepted as characters. Pseudowords were constructed by substitution of one unit from real characters to form a non-existing combination of graphic units. There were two types of nonwords: (1) they were constructed by placing the radicals of pseudowords in illegal position; or (2) they were made by substituting illegal graphic features in pseudowords. Results indicated that even 5- and 6-years olds can make a distinction between pseudowords and nonwords. The implications of this finding to the teaching of Chinese will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1999


Chan, L. (1999, March). The conception of Chinese characters in young children. Symposium conducted at the 4th OMEP(Hong Kong) International Conference: Quality Early Childhood Education: The Right of Every Child, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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