“Reading to Learn” – cognitive processes involved in learning Chinese characters
- Start date: 1 May 2019
- End date: 31 July 2019
- Funder: LCS
- Primary investigator: Dr Clare Wright
- External co-investigators: Shi Zhang (University of Reading)
Funded by Languages, Cultures and Societies (University of Leeds)
This psycholinguistics/SLA project explores visual cognition strategies for learning Chinese characters, looking at Working Memory and eye-tracking behaviour in noticing, retaining and retrieving L2 word knowledge.
Learners are routinely expected to memorise characters individually using flashcards or app-based technology. However, it is not fully understood how learners use such visual memorisation activities of single word items with or without pinyin support to help build up reading fluency when encountering characters in context.
This project thus aims to add novel psycholinguistic understanding of the role of visual vs verbal cognitive learning strategies, to help inform the debate whether vocabulary should be learned first by oral/aural input supported by pinyin, or whether characters can support word learning from the start.
The project aims to inform Chinese teachers how to help students learn characters more effectively.
Publications and outputs
Learners are routinely expected to memorise characters individually using flashcards or other repetition activities (Shen 2005) but it is not fully understood how learners transform such visual memorisation activities into a workable vocabulary store, e.g. to help build up reading fluency. Nor do we yet know in detail the links between visual and linguistic cognitive processes involved in character learning, which could help inform the debate whether vocabulary should be learned first by oral/aural input supported by pinyin, or whether characters can support word learning from the start (Everson 2008).