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Chinese Pre-Intermediate Course

This is the Cloud for Chinese Pre-Intermediate Course in the spring semester at the University of Tilburg....

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Amy Hsiao
29 January 2010

This is the Cloud for Chinese Pre-Intermediate Course in the spring semester at the University of Tilburg.

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Amy Hsiao
5:35pm 6 May 2010

Do you agree that learning stroke order is important for writing Chinese characters?

Jan Wouter van Dalen
2:27pm 12 May 2010

Yes! You will remember how to write characters more easily, since you can kind of structure the characters in your head. If you just randomly 'draw' the character as you see it, you will only confuse yourself. Next to that, if you have learned the stroke order of several characters, than it will become easier to learn the stroke order of other characters which you are learning.

Juliette Culver
3:19pm 12 May 2010

I think learning the stroke order possibly actually makes it easier to learn the characters rather than harder? At least I found that it was easier to remember to the set of strokes than to remember a complicated character and then try to reproduce it with the help of a set of strokes. You also need to know how many strokes are in a character and learning the strokes means that you learn that at the same time.

Amy Hsiao
6:25pm 12 May 2010

Now, I am trying to explain why learning stroke order makes learning characters easier from the perspective of cognitive load theory!

At the beginning of learning stroke orders, it seems to be an extra work for many learners. But actually it is to help build schema in your long term memory. When learning something new, cognitive load is imposed to our working memory because there is no schema of new information yet in our long term memory. Similiarly, when learning a new Chinese character, higher load will be imposed if you do not have any schema in your long term memory. Stroke orders and radicals are helpful for learning characters because they can be stored as schemata in your long term memory. With them, learning a new character is NOT entirely new any more because some parts are learned. That's why learning stroke order makes learning characters easier!

Jill Shepherd
7:59am 13 May 2010

Hi everyone,

I run an organization in the UK, Bamboo Learning, that teaches Chinese to children. We ere developing a curriculum for the government here for chidlren aged 7-11. We are debating what role learning characters should take. It is interesting how some children love learning them and very much want to get it right include stroke order whilst others are not so keen. So does it matter? I think teaching that stoke order should be along the lines of...

- is traditional not least because you always end in bottom left of square as characters used to be vertically written intrigues them

- that it helps learn them at least for some - so stroke order becomes a 'Language Learning Strategy' as was mentioned above

-that you would never teach a child to write a letter  in English various ways and say that is OK - in fact in our experience relating learning characters to how children learnt to write their own alphabet works well

- that research has shown that unless writing is routine (and to be so the writing has to be automatic and cannot be so if you are having to think about which stroke order) you are distracted from the main purpose of writing which is to communicate meaning

Well those are my thoughts..




Hannah Oosterhuis
6:42pm 17 June 2010 (Edited 6:43pm 17 June 2010)

I like how you use cognitive load to explain why learning stroke order is helpful in learning chinese characters. I also think that attending to the stroke order of a character increases the amount of attention that is put into the proces of writing and hence the proces of learning. So the extra attention and effort needed to write characters using the right stroke order are both beneficial for the process of learning characters.

Personally, I have also noticed that characters appear to 'feel' more familiar, because of the radicals and stroke order you recognize from other characters. In this way, characters become less abstract and I think this feeling of familiarity totally corresponds to the schemata you described Amy.

Lori H.W.Crevecoeur-Tseng
2:39pm 23 March 2011

Hi, thanks for very enriching discussions here. I learned a lot about the possible effects of emphasizing stroke orders.  Luckily, so far  I have not encountered much questions from students here. I coach a few western expats learning Chinese in Shanghai and do the following:

1. First I get student to take a brush pen (we use sort of semi-traditional brush pen (calligraphy pen) which you do not have to have ink imbedded in the pen) to go through different Chinese strokes so that student feel why strokes are structured the way they are as ancient Chinese wrote them in brush pen.  E.g. a ''gou'' is natural to write if you use the brush pen.

2. I arrange the Hanzi teaching material in the way that students learn particles in a natural flow, instead of learning Hanzi by vocabulary list in the lesson. For example, they learn 木 不,then 杯. In this sense, student picks up the characters with ease. I show them stroke order word by word and there is no complaints so far about extra efforts to remember stroke orders.

3. As students accumulate their Hanzi, they find it pretty natural to write in correct stroke orders. Actually no one tells me that they feel burdened by extra efforts of writing in good stroke orders.  Or perhaps they feel they just have to learn as they live in China now.

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