Understanding one syllable mapping to one character promotes reading development in Chinese

Dan LIN, Ling-Po SHIU

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Purpose. Extent research has demonstrated the importance of morphological awareness (e.g., McBride-Chang, et al., 2003), phonological awareness (e.g., Lin et al., 2010) and orthographic awareness (e.g., Siok, Fletcher, 2001) in Chinese reading development in young children. However, little is known about the fundamental mapping process between sound units (phonology) and visual symbols (visual-orthography) in Chinese. The present study aimed to investigate the role of syllable mapping, defined as the ability of mapping syllable (sound unit) to character (visual unit), in Chinese word reading development with the traditional well-documented reading predictors of visual skills and syllable awareness controlled. Method. Children participated in the study were 96 Hong Kong Chinese kindergartners. All children were native Cantonese speakers. In the syllable mapping task, children were asked to point out a particular character in a card with three-character word visually printed on and uttered by the examiner. Other tasks administered included syllable awareness, visual spatial relationship, and Chinese word reading. Results. Results showed that Chinese word reading was strongly associated with syllable awareness, r = .58 (p < .001), and syllable mapping, r = .75 (p < .001) Further hierarchical regression analyses found that with children's age, visual spatial relationship, and syllable awareness statistically controlled, syllable mapping explained 16% unique variance of Chinese word reading, and it emerged as a significant predictor in the final Beta weight, t = 6.40, p < .001. Conclusions. The results underscored the importance of the cross-modality ability of mapping syllable to character in Chinese reading development among preschoolers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


Hong Kong
Regression Analysis
Weights and Measures


Lin, D., & Shiu, L.-P. (2012, July). Understanding one syllable mapping to one character promotes reading development in Chinese. Paper presented at the Nineteenth Annual Meeting Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, Montreal, Canada.