The role of tone awareness and pinyin knowledge in Chinese reading

Li Yin, Wenling Li, Xi Chen, Richard C. Anderson, Jie Zhang, Hua Shu, Wei Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous literature has established that tone awareness is significantly related to reading development in young children (age 36 years) across Chinese-speaking societies. To date, no study has been conducted to explicitly examine how tone awareness contributes to reading at the intermediate level of primary schooling, or the relationship between tone awareness and pinyin instruction, a demonstrated booster for phonological awareness in Chinese children. The present study aimed to fill this gap by investigating the relationship between tone awareness and pinyin proficiency, and the contribution of each construct to Chinese reading among 8- to 9-year-old children in Mainland China. Experiment 1 compared the relative contribution of tone awareness and pinyin proficiency to Chinese reading, and Experiment 2 explored the contribution of tone sensitivity to Chinese reading after controlling for rapid naming. Results showed that tone awareness was the only significant predictor of Chinese sentence reading when entered with onset awareness and pinyin proficiency measures (Experiment 1); and that tone awareness continued to be a unique contributor to Chinese sentence reading after controlling for speed naming measures (Experiment 2). This study provides important empirical evidence for the critical role of tone awareness in Chinese reading in intermediate-level primary school children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalWriting Systems Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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