What are the cognitive-linguistic skills important to Chinese written composition in elementary grades?

Pui Sze YEUNG, Suk Han Connie HO, Wai Ock David CHAN, Kevin Kien Hoa CHUNG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Purpose: The present study examined the various cognitive-linguistic skill correlates of Chinese written composition among writers in different elementary grades. Method: Participants in this cross-sectional study were 85 Chinese children in Grade 2, Grade 4 and Grade 6 in Hong Kong. They were administered measures of written composition and cognitive-linguistic skills (including rapid naming, verbal working memory, orthographic-motor skills, transcription skills, oral narrative skills, and syntactic skills) that were expected to be significant predictors of written composition. Results: The findings showed that Chinese written composition was significantly correlated with word spelling in Grade 2, stroke sequence knowledge and oral narrative skills in Grade 4, and working memory and oral narrative skills in Grade 6. Conclusions: These results were consistent with the hypothesis that the relationships between cognitive-linguistic skills and written composition are different in different phases of development, consistent with the suggestions of Berninger, Mizokawa, and Bragg (1991) that children are faced with the constraints of attaining automaticity in producing written graphic units in early elementary grades and with linguistic constraints that affect the production of written words, sentences and paragraphs in higher elementary grades. The findings showed that the importance of orthographic-motor skills and transcription skills extended beyond Grade 2 and that working memory and oral narrative skills only become significant to written composition in Grade 6. Together, results underscore the importance of the unique characteristics of Chinese orthography and the impact of the discrepancy in oral language (Cantonese dialect) and written language (Standard Chinese) on children's writing development. Copyright © 2013 Society for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


Short-Term Memory
Motor Skills
Hong Kong
Child Development
Cross-Sectional Studies


Yeung, P.-S., Ho, C. S.-H., Chan, D. W.-O., & Chung, K. K.-H. (2013, July). What are the cognitive-linguistic skills important to Chinese written composition in elementary grades? Paper presented at the Twentieth Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.