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Processing strategies used in short-term memory by japanese and Americans learning Chinese as a second language (memory)

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Author Zhou, Xiaoyang.
Broad Subject Education
Summary This study examined the strategies used by beginning and advanced learners of Chinese, as a second language, to recognize words in Chinese orthography. The subjects under study had English or Japanese as their first language. A total of sixty-eight adult readers (32 at the beginning level and 36 at the advanced) participated. The stimuli used were seventy-five Chinese characters selected on the basis of the analysis of their phonetic and logographic radical features. It was hypothesized that character recognition would be based on how subjects stored the word in short term memory, and that the predominant processing strategy used would be revealed by the types of errors made on the recognition tests. Errors were categorized as being of three kinds: graphic, phonologic and semantic.

It was found that a graphic or imaginal recognition strategy was predominantly used by all subjects except for advanced Japanese students who used a mixed graphic and phonologic recognition strategy.At both beginning and advanced levels, English-speaking subjects made significantly more graphic and semantic errors than Japanese subjects.There were no significant differences between the number of phonologic errors made by these latter two groups. Both beginning English-speaking and Japanese-speaking subjects made significantly more graphic and semantic errors than those at the advanced level.

Based on these findings, it was concluded that at the word level of processing, the principal strategy used by both groups of readers learning Chinese was to recognize words in terms of the graphic. This was represented by the radical of the Chinese characters. Furthermore, the different first-language background of the subjects affected the predominance of the processing strategy used. English-speaking subjects activated a graphic strategy much more than Japanese subjects, who were able to use the phonologic information in the character, given their prior knowledge of an ideographic system. Tendency to use a phonologic strategy increased, as subjects became more efficient in reading Chinese.

Language English
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