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Reading and Teaching in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. December 5, 2013 LRA Conference. Goodman , K., Wang, S., M. Iventosch , & Goodman, Y. ( Eds. , 2011 ). Reading in Asian languages: Making sense of written texts in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. New York , NY: Routledge . .

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Goodman, K., Wang, S., M. Iventosch, & Goodman, Y. (Eds., 2011). Reading in Asian languages: Making sense of written texts in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. New York, NY: Routledge.


There are misunderstandings in the western world about the nature of non-alphabetic writings systems, how they work, what their history is and why hundreds of millions of literate people continue to learn and use them. The presenters discuss common misconceptions and provide evidence based on their research and teaching to explore reading in their own language and the constructivist nature of the reading process in all languages.


Chair: Yetta Goodman

University of Arizona

Kenneth Goodman

University of Arizona………………..Reading in Asian and Non Alphabetic Languages

An Introduction and Overview

Mieko Iventosch

Pima Community College……………….Japanese Orthography: Human Creativity and


Yoo Kyung Sung

University of New Mexico………………………Invitation to Korean Language through

Children’s Literature


presenters cont
Presenters cont.

Yueh-Nu Hung

National Taichung University……….…The Psychological Process in Reading Chinese

Koomi Kim

New Mexico State University…………….How Readers Process Japanese Orthography

in Two Different Texts

Junko Sakoi

University of Arizona…………..Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Visual Story Telling

Shaomei Wang

Tufts University……………………………………Chinese Reading and Writing Reform

Yetta Goodman………………………….....Implications, Applications and Interactions

the process of reading in non alphabetic languages kenneth goodman university of arizona
The Process of Reading in Non-Alphabetic LanguagesKenneth Goodman, University of Arizona

A note from Ken Goodman: Almost half the literate world uses a system of writing that is not alphabetic. Yet there is much misunderstanding and misinformation about non- alphabetic writing systems, how they work, how they are learned and used.

The eminent linguist Leonard Bloomfield and lexicographer Clarence Barnhart wrote in their book, Let’s Read: A Linguistic Approach:

… In word writing each word is represented by a conventional sign, and these signs are arranged in the same order as the words in speech. Chinese writing is the most perfect system of this kind. There is a conventional character for every word in the language. To write a message you write the character which represents the first word into the upper right hand corner of the paper, below it you write the character for the second word and so on; when you have reached the bottom of the page you start again at the top, to the left of the first word, and form a second column down to the bottom or the paper, and so on. Each character represents some one Chinese word. As the vocabulary of the literate person is about twenty thousand words, this means that in order to read even moderately well one must know thousands of characters. Learning to read Chinese is a difficult task, and if the Chinese reader does not keep in practice, he is likely to lose his fluency (p.25).

the process of reading in non alphabetic languages kenneth goodman university of arizona cont
The Process of Reading in Non-Alphabetic Languages Kenneth Goodman, University of Arizona cont.

Not much of this quote is accurate. Chinese writing is a system and characters have an internal structure which makes it possible in context for readers to make sense of unfamiliar characters. And the belief that Chinese writing is hard to learn is one we challenge in this book.

This introduction includes a brief delineation of the historical and contemporary issues involving Chinese, Japanese, and Korean writing systems and how and why they continue to be used in written communication. It also presents the unifying theme of the book: that there is a single process of making sense of print whether it is alphabetic or non-alphabetic.

The chapter also introduces the comprehensive model of reading that the authors share and the methodology of miscue analysis which built the understanding of how reading works as a process of constructing meaning.

japanese orthography human creativity and adaptability mieko iventosch pima community college
Japanese Orthography: Human Creativity and AdaptabilityMieko Iventosch, Pima Community College

Japanese orthography is characterized by the mixed use of ideographic kanji and syllabic letters, hiragana and katakana, all of which can appear simultaneously in various parts of a sentence. This session will discuss how the Japanese creatively adapted Chinese characters and developed the foundation of the current Japanese orthography more than one thousand years ago.

We will also examine the strikingly different choices made by three nations in Asia (Viet Nam, Korea and Japan) about their writing systems in the 20th century. Their attempts to develop and refine their own writing systems demonstrate that their choices were influenced by various factors such as historical, socio-cultural, political and linguistic aspects in each given circumstance. As such, neither phonograms nor ideograms are superior to each other; human beings have creativity and adaptability to make available writing systems functional to serve the need of each language society

invitation to korean language through children s literature yoo kyung sung university of new mexico
Invitation to Korean Language Through Children’s LiteratureYoo Kyung Sung, University of New Mexico

This session invites audience to five categories of Korean children’s picture books to explore authentic Hanguel experiences and Korean cultures around a range of children’s books—1) Invitation to Korean written language; featuring Hanguel alphabet books, 2) Meet children in contemporary Korea and challenging cultural “stereotypocide” of over-representations of traditions 3) You celebrate Thanksgiving Korea celebrates Chuseok; Broadening New Year’s Day Tradition and generic Asian experiences 4) Making connections with cultural tensions: Overcoming ideologically different sociocultural values. This session will discuss how reading a range of Korean children’s books can enhance authentic language learning experiences with broader and deeper intercultural and international perspectives.

the psychological process in reading chinese yueh nu hung national taichung university of education
The Psychological Process in Reading ChineseYueh-Nu Hung, National Taichung University of Education

This presentation discusses the psychological process of meaning construction in reading Chinese. Specifically, we will see how Chinese readers use linguistic cues from within the character, word formation, sentence structure, and semantic/pragmatic context as well as personal background knowledge to construct meaning. Evidence is collected from children’s natural language production, reading miscues, invented writing, and eye movement data. This presentation will conclude that there is more similarity than difference in the reading of Chinese and alphabetic languages and there is a universal constructive process in the reading of all human languages.

How Readers Process Japanese Orthography in Two Different TextsKoomi Kim, New Mexico State University

This study examines how proficient Japanese readers transact with two types of Japanese texts;1) Kanji-Hiragana-Katakana integrated text 2) Hiragana only text.10 Japanese readers read both texts once.  Their reading and eye movements were recorded by using an eye-tracker. Also, they were asked to retell the story and give follow-up reflections to analyze their own reading processes. The proficient Japanese readers found it more challenging to transact with the Hiragana-only text than the Kanji-Hiragana-Katakana integrated text. This study indicates that a Kanji-Hiragana-Katakana integrated text makes it easier to make inferences and predictions because of the prevalence of semantic and syntactic cues given in the Kanji system.

kamishibai the art of japanese visual story telling junko sakoi university of arizona
Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Visual Story TellingJunko Sakoi, University of Arizona

Using kamishibai, (ka-mee-she-bye), traditional Japanese visual storytelling, as an example, this session invites audience to explore how the role of literacy has changed in Japan. First, the relationship between the development of Japanese orthography and visual storytelling is discussed, and in the second, the development of kamishibai in Japanese society is presented from cultural and socio-economic perspectives. Third, the impacts of digital technology on kamishibai as well as Japanese children and youths’ literacy practices are described. The discussions about the current role of kamishibai in educational settings, such as for students’ multiple literacy development and intercultural understanding, in Japan and other countries including the U.S, is also included.

chinese reading and writing reform shaomei wang tufts university
Chinese Reading and Writing ReformShaomei Wang, Tufts University

Chinese script has survived for over two thousand years and has seen many attempts to replace it with an alphabet. In this study, I discuss Chinese language reform, especially character simplification from the perspective of reading and literacy. By applying the transactional socio-psycholinguistic model of reading and writing (Goodman, 1996, 2003, 2004), I investigate whether the physical simplicity or complexity of characters has any significant impact on the reading process and reading comprehension of Chinese. At a deeper level, I discuss how Chinese reading works, through the analysis of advanced students of Chinese reading the same text in the simplified characters they have learned and the traditional characters they have not been taught.