Becoming literate in Chinese: a comparison of native‐speaking and non‐native‐speaking children Academic Article uri icon


  • Copyright © 2017 UKLA How do native Chinese-speaking (CS) and non-Chinese-speaking (NCS) children learn to read and write in Chinese? In the present study, 29 CS and 34 NCS second and third graders aged 76 to 122 months (M = 93.65) participated in an experiment where they were taught 16 new Chinese characters in one of four conditions – copy, radical, phonological and look–say. Results showed that the copying condition best facilitated writing of Chinese characters for both groups, whereas radical knowledge facilitated only CS children's writing. NCS children benefited more from the phonological condition than from the look–say condition in learning to read Chinese. These results highlight the effectiveness of copying practice for all children learning to write Chinese. However, approaches to reading and writing Chinese may differ somewhat depending on the Chinese background knowledge of the children as well. Teaching children Chinese should be geared towards the strengths of different groups for learning.

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, Y., McBride, C., Zhou, Y., Joshi, R. M., & Farver, J.

citation count

  • 9

publication date

  • July 2017