The Effect of Key-image Mnemonics to Support Character Learning of Chinese-as-Foreign-Language Learners

張 瓅勻(Li-Yun Wendy CHANG), 陳 敬瑜(Jing-Yu CHEN), Charles A. PERFETTI, 陳 學志(Hsueh-Chih CHEN)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study aims to examine the effect of Key-image Mnemonics on character learning of Chinese-as-foreign-language (CFL) learners. A 3×2×3 repeated measures design was adopted. The independent variables were learning method (etymology: implicit form+meaning method, Key-image mnemonic: explicit form+meaning method, and stroke sequence: form-emphasis method), character complexity (high and low), and testing point (immediate, post, and delayed tests). The dependent variables were the participants' accuracy in character recognition and reproduction tasks. The participants were 27 English-speaking US college students without Chinese learning experiences. They learned 48 characters in three consecutive sessions. A Latin square design was used to balance the condition order such that, after all sessions, all participants experienced each learning method, but on different sessions for different characters. Results showed that, firstly, the form+meaning methods (i.e., Key-image mnemonic and etymology) consistently lead to superior effects in recognizing and reproducing character forms. Secondly, in the form-meaning recognition task, Key-image mnemonic yielded the best recognition for high-complexity characters, and it benefited recognition equally well as etymology for low-complexity characters. Finally, in the form reproduction task, Key-image mnemonic outperformed the other two methods regardless of character complexity. Implications for teaching and learning Chinese characters were offered.
Original languageChinese (Traditional)
Pages (from-to)31-74
Number of pages44
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Chinese-as-foreign-language learning
  • Chinese characters
  • etymology
  • key-image method
  • mnemonics
  • stroke sequence
  • 字源學習法
  • 記憶術
  • 筆順學習法
  • 華語為外語學習
  • 漢字學習
  • 鍵接圖學習法

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