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Some stuff I learned in grad school about learning to write Chinese




This was copied from the conclusion of a research paper I wrote. I'm not super confident on the quality of the paper so I'm not putting it here. A lot of this should be "no shit" to many of you. Some of it might be surprising.

A teacher’s ability to naturally gravitate toward good pedagogy depends on target language proficiency, linguistic expertise, and familiarity with current research and technology. Based on the studies referenced in this paper and the discussion in the previous section,

  • Reading complements writing and writing complements reading. They should be developed together, with reading prioritized.
  • Students should not be expected to write whatever they can say or read, but should be expected to write something in order to develop sensitivity to orthographic features of Chinese.
  • Students should be shown and be allowed to use the best learning tools available on their various devices.
  • Allowing novice students to produce written Chinese using phonetic input methods is not a handicap, but a scaffolding tool providing reinforcement of the connection between phonetic notation, meaning, and written representation of words.
  • Learners who are freed from having to handwrite everything in their oral vocabulary should learn handwriting at a more deliberate pace, where more attention is paid to form.
  • In particular, the modular structure of Chinese characters should be taught explicitly.
  • Although unfashionable, rote repetition is still useful in developing motor memory, which automatizes encoding, allowing a focus on meaning.
  • The same stroke order should be followed each time a character is written.



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This should be posted in the topic "back to whether or not to handwrite". As usual from Hofmann a very succinct and clear explanation of what I was trying to explain.

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Write a research paper using Mandarin and then help us all learn how to do it! 


If you put a lot of effort into it, maybe you should make us pay. I would definitely invest in learning how to write a decent paper. 

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OK. I've done it before, but I'm not sure if the process is any different from writing it in English. The Anglosphere leads research in the world after all. I'll consider it.

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I know, but I go to grad school in China and am trying to figure out how to write research papers using Mandarin. 


It's definitely easier to just drop out and do everything in English. 

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Mostly in line with intuition (at least for people with a decent amount of Chinese learning experience). That said, some of it (e.g. using phonetic input methods in lieu of learning to handwrite every character) might be controversial.


Any chance you could post your references?

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I forgot where I got a lot of this stuff, but for the more controversial stuff,


Rote repetition:

  • Sasaki, M. (1986). Body as a field of memory. 50th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Psychological Association, s26.
  • Sasaki, M., & Watanabe, A. (1984). Cultural origin of "kusho" behavior. The Japanese Journal of Educational Psychology, 32(3), 182-190.


Allowing novices to use phonetic input:

  • Zhou, Q. 周琼. (1999). 多媒体技术与新型识字教学: 上海市实验学校新教材评介 [Multimedia technology and a new type of literacy education: Evaluation of Shanghai Experimental School new teaching materials]. 《课程教材教法》 [Course Materials Teaching Methodology], 11, 16-21.
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