The process of learning Chinese in kindergartners: Evidence of eye movements

Dan LIN, Jue PAN, Jiaxin LIU, Guangyao CHEN, Lei MO

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


The study investigated the eye-movement patterns in learning Chinese words and how they were related to Chinese learning process among four-year old Hong Kong Chinese children. Children were seated on a comfortable chair and asked to read two-character Chinese word immediately after each utterance which was displayed in the computertogether with its illustration and pinyin. Their eye movement data were recorded. 20 words for learning were carefully selected to be orally familiar to children but not known to children of their written forms as tested in an earlier pilot study. Additionally, children’s reading level of these words was tested and recorded before and after the learning sessions. Moreover, phonological awareness and visual skills were tested before learning as metalinguistic and cognitive controls. The results showed that children’ attention to illustration was significantly larger than their attention to print, and Pinyin received the least attention. However, interestingly, significant positive correlation of time 2 reading score to fixation duration time was only found in children’s attention to print, but not to illustration. Further hierarchical regression analysis results showed that fixation duration time on print emerged as a significant predictor in explaining time 2 Chinese word reading, even with phonological awareness, visual skills, and time 1 Chinese word reading statistically controlled. These findings illustrated children’s preference of illustration to print in Chinese word learning process. However, notable, it is the attention to print, instead of attention to illustration, is significant and effective in promoting Chinese word learning. The results may bring important contributions to development of teaching materials and pedagogy in early childhood education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


Lin, D., Pan, J., Liu, J., Chen, G., & Mo, L. (2015, July). The process of learning Chinese in kindergartners: Evidence of eye movements. Paper presented at the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting: Society for the scientific study of reading, Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, The Big Island, Hawaii.


  • Reading development
  • Eye movements
  • Chinese
  • Word learning
  • Kindergarten


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