Character teaching for young Korean learners of Chinese as a foreign language : implications of research on how native Chinese children learn to read

S.Y. Shin, Sun-A Kim

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic research


In Korea, discussions of character teaching for young learners of Chinese as a foreign language, such as what characters, when, and how to teach them, have been lacking. Specifically, children’s age and cognitive development have not been fully considered in teaching Chinese characters to Korean children. Hence, this study aims to derive implications for Korean children’s character learning from empirical studies of how native Chinese children learn to read. Previous studies on children’s reading disorders in alphabetic writing systems have suggested that children’s reading difficulties can be attributed to phonological awareness rather than visuo-spatial processing abilities. Research on Chinese children’s reading development has investigated the importance of working memory in Chinese reading and explored the contributions of phonological and visual processing to Chinese reading. However, there is no consensus on which modality, phonological or visuo-spatial processing, plays a more significant role in reading Chinese characters among Chinese children. Studies imply that both types of processing are important in character recognition, but linguistic contexts and cognitive development stages in which Chinese children are placed differentiate the contribution of each mode of processing. Therefore, in teaching Chinese characters to Korean child learners of Chinese as a foreign language, characters and teaching methods should be selected based on the cognitive development phases of learners, and more empirical studies on this issue need to be conducted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-163
Number of pages25
JournalHan-character and classical written language education (漢字漢文教育 / 한국한자한문교육학회)
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Chinese characters
  • Korean children
  • Reading
  • Visual processing
  • Phonological awareness
  • Cognitive development

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