Supporting Orthographic Learning at the Beginning Stage of Learning to Read Chinese as a Second Language

Li Yun Chang*, Yi Xu, Charles A. Perfetti, Juan Zhang, Hsueh Chih Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Learning to read a second language (L2) is especially challenging when a target L2 requires learning new graphic forms. Learning Chinese, which consists of thousands of characters composed of hundreds of basic writing units, presents such a challenge of orthographic learning for adult English speakers at the beginning stages of learning. In this study, we use an in vivo classroom design to extend previous research on how to support orthographic learning. First, we test the hypothesis that learning characters is enhanced by a grouped sequence of characters that share sub-character graphic components. Second, we examine the effects of four encoding methods that have been investigated in laboratory studies—handwriting, visual chunking, passive reading, and stroke-reporting. The results demonstrate that the grouped approach facilitated character production compared with the distributed approach and that visual-chunking outperformed the other three encoding methods under the grouped sequence. We propose that learning via visual chunking with characters grouped by the same chunks enhances the Chinese orthographic representations of beginning L2 learners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-305
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Disability, Development and Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul 3


  • Chinese as foreign/second-language learning
  • character scoring scheme
  • characters-distributed instruction
  • characters-in-group instruction
  • encoding methods
  • handwriting
  • in vivo experiment
  • orthographic learning
  • reading
  • visual chunking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Supporting Orthographic Learning at the Beginning Stage of Learning to Read Chinese as a Second Language'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this