The Role of Morphological Awareness in Learning to Read chinese

William E. Nagy, Amy Kuo-kealoha, Wu Xinchun, Li Wenling, Richard C. Anderson, Chen Xi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Morphological awareness has been hypothesized to play a role in Chinese literacy acquisition analogous to that played by phonemic awareness in children learning to read English. This hypothesis was tested through a one-year instructional intervention designed to enhance morphological awareness which was implemented in first- and fourth-grade Beijing classrooms. At both grade levels, morphological awareness instruction increased students’ performance on tasks directly related to morphological awareness, and on reading or writing tasks which emphasize character-level knowledge. Anticipated synergistic effects of the morphological awareness intervention with an intervention aimed at increasing students’ volume of reading were not found. We conclude that in learning to read Chinese, as in learning to read English, students are benefited by instruction that helps them gain insight into how their writing system represents the units of the spoken language
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChinese Children’s Reading Acquisition
EditorsLi Wenling, Janet S. Gaffney, Jerome L. Packard
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4615-0859-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-4613-5274-7
StatePublished - 2002


  • acquisition of literacy
  • Chinese literacy
  • instructional intervention
  • metalinguistic awareness
  • morphological awareness
  • phonemic awareness
  • volume of reading


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