The current research built on Yan, Miller, Li, and Shu’s (2008) eye-tracking study, which examined how second grade native Chinese speakers focused on Pinyin and Chinese characters while reading sentences. This research also used eye-tracking to examine how Chinese foreign Language learners (CFL) fixated on Pinyin and Chinese characters to determine if Pinyin facilitated or distracted from character learning. Two groups participated in this research: first semester university students enrolled in a beginning level Chinese class, and third, fourth, and fifth grade students enrolled in Chinese dual language immersion (DLI). All participants were asked to read eight sentences in Chinese with Pinyin placed above the characters. These sentences included familiar, unfamiliar, and new characters based on the students’ curricula. Results indicated that the DLI students spent significantly more time and fixations on Pinyin than characters, whereas the first semester university students spent more time and fixations on unfamiliar and new characters than Pinyin. The students also completed a questionnaire about Pinyin, which showed that the majority of elementary students liked having Pinyin above the characters and did not think that Pinyin was distracting. A much smaller percentage of first semester university students liked having Pinyin above the characters, but the majority realized that it was distracting. It seems that the first semester university students used Pinyin as a tool, but the DLI students used it as a crutch. Pedagogical suggestions are provided.
College and Department
Humanities; Center for Language Studies
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Wang, Yung-Wei, "Pinyin Facilitation or Hindrance of Character Acquisition for Beginning Chinese Learners" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9461.
Pinyin, Chinese characters, L2 literacy, eye-tracking