Learning to write Chinese by hand: Benefits, side effects and drawbacks of writing by hand and by computer seen from a didactic perspective Claire Smulders, M.A. (ICLON) ICLON, Leiden University SLO, Learning to write Chinese by hand, Amsterdam 8th June 2012
Several topics • Objectives of the final examination • Consequences for the education programme • Correlation between Writing and Reading • Which strategy to follow • Writing as a component of Culture education
Objectives of the final examination • A2 Objectives and can-do statements • Focus on Productive writing as a reflection of everyday writing practice • Genre: familiar genre and personal essay writing. No argumentative essays yet. • Criteria: correct use of characters, vocabulary and grammar, content, coherence and style of writing
Consequences for the Education Program • Objectives education program serve the objectives of the final examination and of everyday life • 480 hours devided over 4 skills + culture =>± 95 hours spread over 3-5 years of education • Use time efficiently
Some hard facts pleading for the use of computers • Time spent on practicing by hand vs production benefit • Precious time to be spent on other skills: speaking, listening and writing • Social and professional situations seldom require an immediate demonstration of handwriting skills • Electronic writing both on screen and print has taken over most of professional and personal correspondence • Not being able to stand up to the standards of the traditional education program is a reason to give up.
Dissertation of Hana Kang at Ohio State University (2011) The Influence of Writing Modes (hand/PC) on • Clarity of writing • Organization of writing at a Beginner’s level and Intermediate level
Shows: • Beginners performed better with PC than by hand in clarity (character errors, vocabulary, grammar)/No difference for Intermediate (see also Xu and Jen 2000) • Beginners as well as Intermediate performed better by hand than by PC in organization (coherence, content, smooth transitions of sentences, style of writing) • Beginners no significant difference in speed /big difference for Intermediate
Conclusion of the study • Each mode has its own strengths and weaknesses. • No preference of one mode over the other • Instead: hybrid mode
But most important… • Writing Chinese characters with computers enhances the integration of writing with the other language skills: listening, speaking and READING. • Focus on Reading = Character Recognition
Correlation Writing-Reading Didactics: awareness of importance • Influencing Long Term Memory • Reducing the Overload of the Working Memory • Positive effect of activating as many parts as possible in the brain (reuring in de hersenen)
Research results show that • from a neuroscience perspective , the skill of logographic handwriting is associated with reading characters. • Neuro-imaging studies (MRI): double function of the pre-motoric cortex • Finger movement stroke counting lightens neural load in recognition of characters. • Engaging in motoric actions is one of the mechanisms that serve and mediate in the formation of long term memory of Chinese characters. • Writing by hand establishes a refinement of visual spatial information
M.Brysbaert (2006): Informatie verwerven in Psychologie(pp.273-278), Academic Press Gent mentions Paivio, Bower, Wilton, Engelkamp, Seiler, Scharps, Craik, Tulvig: How to optimize the process of generating information: Use a cognitive strategy whereby information is recoded and organized: 1. verbal code 2. sensoric code 3. motoric code
The memory is a byproduct of the perception of stimuli. The level on which a stimulus is perceived determines the chance that information is retained on a long term. One will retain information better if one is actively involved in generating the stimuli (generating effect)
Dual Coding Theory + Theory of Enactment
Technique of Meaningful memorization: • The learning of character formation • Pictogram/ideogram/associative compound character/phono-semantic character (80%) • Entrance = Radical (semantic component)
Which strategy to follow • Use 95 hours most efficiently • From the beginning a strong emphasis on • standard and accurate pronunciation • Pinyin Romanization system: transfer from listening to pronunciation and writing and vice versa • Start education in Word Processing immediately • Start productive writing exercises immediately (e.g.) • Postpone starting point of learning to write by hand by three months • Pay attention to the formation of writing: meaningful memorization.
Learn to write all 18 basic strokes and all 216 radicals by hand. First year: all 18 basic strokes and the 108 most frequently used radicals = Iconic strategy (Side effect: use of dictionary) • Learn to write only those characters which are functional in the light of productive writing by hand at the learning stage the student is in. = Functional writing strategy
Cultural value of writing by hand Hegemony of writing by hand = “writeracy” High valuation of good calligraphy in Chinese culture throughout history and around the world. Being able to write by hand stands for literacy, with all its social implications.
Student Motivation = Pedagogy Motivation = Fuel for Working Attitude • What is writing according to students • What enticed them to start studying Chinese in the first place?
Learning to write Chinese by hand: a didactically useful practice
“Tell me, I will forget; show me, I will remember; involve me, I will understand” 不闻不若闻之，闻之不若见之，见之不若知之，知之不若行之；学至于行之而止矣