Ki, W. W., Lam, H. C., Chung, L. S. A., Tse, S. K., Ko, P. Y., Lau, C. C. E., Chou, W. Y. P., Lai, C. Y. A., & Lai, M. S. S. (2003). Structural awareness, variation theory and ICT support. L1 Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 3, 53-78.
Structural awareness, variation theory and ICT support
L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature
Wing-Wah KI, Ho-Cheong LAM, Albert Ling-Sung CHUNG, Shek-Kam TSE, Po-Yuk KO, Eddie Chung-Chee LAU, Priscilla Wai-Yi CHOU, Anthony Chi-Yin LAI, Samson Ming-Sum LAI
To be literate in Chinese, one needs to learn over a thousandChinese characters. This is obviously achallenging task for young learners.Psychological and developmental studies haveprovided evidence that awareness of structuralregularities among the characters is importantfor its learning. Yet how this structuralawareness can be enhanced in instruction isstill not clear. Some worry that any explicitinstruction about structures might actuallyincrease the cognitive burden of the younglearners, as they might be asked to thinkanalytically about the characters, or to learna meta-language that describes the structuralprinciples underlying Chinese charactercomposition. This paper discusses thenature of structural awareness in light ofGurtwitsch's general theory of awareness [Gurwitsch, A. (1964). The Field of consciousness.Pittsburgh: Duguesne University Press] and the theory of variation by Marton and S. Booth [(1997)Learning and awareness. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum] and F. Marton and A. Tsui [(in press) Classroom discourse and the spacing of learning. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum], and proposes how the awareness of Chinese character structures can be developed through experiencing systemicvariations among related instances. Itdiscusses how information and communicationtechnologies can be used to provide usefulsupport for this purpose. These ideas areimplemented in a school–universitycollaboration project in Hong Kong andanecdotal evidence supports the conjecture ofthe authors. The structural awarenessinstruction can also be embedded naturally intomeaningful language learning contexts to forman integrative model of teaching that is wellreceived by teachers and students. Theinstruction does not appear to impose anyadditional cognitive load on the students. Onthe contrary, learners' interest andsensitivity in picking up the structuralfeatures of Chinese characters increases.