Stages in learning to pronounce Chinese characters

Xi Chen, Hua Shu, Ningning Wu, Richard C. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reviews research examining whether children can use information in the Chinese writing system to pronounce characters. The studies reviewed suggest that children making good progress in learning to read are attending to the cues to pronunciation in fully regular characters, semiregular characters, and phonetic families. Fully regular characters provide complete information about pronunciation. Semiregular characters contain partial information about pronunciation. Phonetic families consist of characters sharing the same phonetic that are usually related in pronunciation. Based on the findings, we argue that the overarching graphophonological insight in reading Chinese characters is "the phonetic principle" - the principle that the phonetic components of compound characters provide information about character pronunciation. Children's use of the principle appears to develop in stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology in the Schools
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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