This paper describes and analyzes the school reading and language arts curriculum and significant features of classroom instruction in Chinese primary schools. Reading instruction across China tends to be uniform, because of the national curriculum guide, national textbook series, and common traditions of schooling. Curriculum goals for the primary school include learning approximately 3000 Chinese characters. The load of new characters is greatest in the lower grades. Drill-and-practice predominates in the teaching of characters. Chinese reading instruction emphasizes intensive reading, but neglects extensive reading. According to this analysis, there are at least three promising directions for improving reading instruction in China: (1) explaining the internal structure of Chinese characters and words; (2) increasing the volume of reading; and (3) teaching reading in a manner that leads more children to understand that problem solving is essential in reading.
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