Visual, Phonological and Orthographic Strategies in Learning to Read Chinese

Xi Chen, Richard C. Anderson, Hong Li, Hua Shu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The research reported in this chapter examined the development of strategies in learning to read Chinese through three experiments that involved more than 300 children from preschool to grade six. Experiment 1 showed that preschoolers relied on a few distinctive visual features to read their first words. Experiment 2 showed that kindergarteners already developed some understanding of the phonetic strategy and the analogy strategy, although second graders used both strategies more effectively than kindergartners. The phonetic strategy refers to reading a phonetic compound character by using the information in the phonetic. The analogy strategy refers to reading a compound by making an analogy to another compound that shares the same phonetic. Another finding of Study Two was that the phonetic strategy and analogy strategy developed simultaneously. Experiment 3 revealed that children in the fourth and sixth grade used consistency information to learn families of characters sharing the same phonetic. They learned characters in consistent families better than semi-consistent families, followed by inconsistent families. Moreover, children took family consistency information into consideration when they pronounced novel characters. A model of Chinese reading development is proposed based on the results of the three experiments.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReading Development and Difficulties in Monolingual and Bilingual Chinese Children
EditorsXi Chen, Qiuying Wang, Yang Cathy Luo
ISBN (Electronic)978-94-007-7380-6
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-7379-0
StatePublished - Sep 28 2013

Publication series

NameLiteracy Studies
ISSN (Print)2214-000X
ISSN (Electronic)2214-0018


  • learning to read Chinese
  • distinctive visual feature
  • phonetic strategy
  • analogy strategy
  • family consistency


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