The reading of handwriting: an evaluation of Chinese written by CFL learners

The reading of handwriting: an evaluation of Chinese written by CFL learners

First Author: QI ZHANG -- Dublin City University
Additional authors/chairs: 
Ronan Reilly
Keywords: Chinese, Handwriting, Reading, Reader characteristics
Abstract / Summary: 

The study investigated the effect of individuality of Chinese handwriting on the reading and evaluation of handwritten characters and pinyin. A corpus of handwritten Chinese, half of which was drawn as characters and half as pinyin, were collected from 23 CFL (Chinese as a foreign language) learners while they were being taught 32 characters in three training sessions. The training involved reproducing either the character representation or its pinyin. The training sessions generated a total of 1,104 characters and 1,104 pinyin. Four native Chinese speakers, who had been involved in CFL teaching, were recruited to read and evaluate the handwriting on a 3-point scale, where 1 was ‘incorrect’, 2 ‘okay’ and 3 ‘good’.

Inter-rater reliability was measured using the Fleiss variant of kappa resulting in a value of 0.4, indicating moderate levels of agreement. There was a significant increase in the positive rating of character handwriting over the three training sessions; the more participants practiced, the more positively assessed was their character drawing. However, the evaluation of pinyin handwriting tended to not to be affected by practice. Analysis of correct responses to a recognition task following the three sessions of training, yielded a significant interaction between training mode (character vs. pinyin) and quality of writing. The higher the quality of writing, the better the character recognition, but the poorer the sound recognition.

The results of this study reinforce the finding of Zhang and Reilly (2015) who demonstrated a positive link between writing practice and the visual recognition of characters. The evaluation data presented here suggest that CFL learners may be operate in two mutually exclusive modes: focussing on the visual aspect of the learning task or on its auditory aspect, but not on both.

Zhang, Q. and Reilly, R. 2015. Writing to Read: the Case of Chinese. Proceeding of the 29th PACLIC 29, pp. 345-354.