Tse, S.K. (2003). Role of Literature and Medium of Instruction in Learning Chinese Characters in Hong Kong [Abstract]. In The 4th IAIMTE International Conference: The Learning and Teaching of Language and Literature, pp 10. Lisbon, Portugal.
Role of Literature and Medium of Instruction in Learning Chinese Characters in Hong Kong
Book of Abstracts of The 4th IAIMTE International Conference
Link / doi
Many Chinese people have experienced difficulties in learning Chinese characters. They found that Chinese characters are difficult to recognize, pronounce and write. Traditional teaching materials of Chinese characters are always based on high frequency words. However, these high frequency words are usually collected from newspapers, magazines and books. The readers of these reading materials are mostly adult. It is obvious that life experience between adults and children is different. As a result, the contents of these materials are mostly not related to students’ life experience. Most of them are boring and uninteresting.
In order to solve the problems mentioned above, a research “Comprehensive and Effective Learning of Chinese Characters” has been conducted since 1998 by the author. Nursery rhymes, children literatures, and language games relating to children’s life experience have been adopted as new teaching materials. Research studies found that new teaching materials are related to their metal lexicon and interesting to children.
The mother tongue of Hong Kong children is Cantonese. However, some of the kindergartens and primary schools in Hong Kong use Putonghua (a language use in Mainland China) and English as the medium of instruction. Parents also like to send their children to study in schools using English as the medium of instruction too. The problem is, children are unfamiliar with these languages. They find it difficult to understand teachers’ instructions, content of the lessons and thus hard to participate in classroom activities. They have to learn and memorize the pronunciations and spelling of a huge number of vocabularies. Their knowledge learnt from their life experience and mother tongue cannot be used. This affects their learning performance and progress seriously.
There are about 300 schools participating in the research project. The result is very encouraging. The present study reports the effect of using children’s literature and nursery rhyme as teaching materials and the importance of using mother tongue (Cantonese) as a medium of instruction in learning Chinese characters.