CHAO, Der-lin: Chinese Character Instruction and Literacy Development: New Methods and New Materials
Finding the most effective ways to teach and learn Chinese characters is a challenge faced by beginning-level instructors and Western students. Training to become fluent in character recognition is the first step Western students must take if they want to read Chinese texts and to achieve an advanced level of literacy in Chinese.
To help students overcome their difficulties in learning the Chinese writing system, and to make texts composed in formal Chinese more accessible to Western students, it is essential that researchers and educators recognize the role and value of character instruction in the process of learning Chinese as a second language, from beginning through advanced levels of literacy development.
For students whose native languages are alphabet-based, character instruction and literacy development are especially crucial and should not be considered supplementary or secondary to learning to speak Chinese. The approach to eliminate or to delay character instruction at the beginning level is not the best solution in the long run, because students need systematic training in characters and literacy development from their beginning year or they will not be adequately prepared to read Chinese texts once they reach upper-level classes.
Beginning students should be provided with systematic instruction in character formation methods, strokes, stroke order, character components (especially radicals), and ways to facilitate memorization of characters. Furthermore, character instruction should not be restricted to merely acquiring these mechanical skills; instead, Chinese language teachers should incorporate an overall understanding of the historical development of Chinese scripts and its role in Chinese culture, art, and contribution to world civilizations.
This presentation will introduce and demonstrate A New Multimedia Course in Learning Chinese Characters. The course materials are designed to follow a new approach to teaching Chinese characters in the context of literacy development. These technology-enhanced materials will help Western students overcome their difficulties in learning the Chinese writing system and help them to achieve the advanced level of literacy needed to read Chinese texts.