Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 17614519
Project Title(English) : Examining the effects of executive function on Chinese word reading among Chinese as a second language (CSL) learners and Chinese students from a developmental perspective 
Project Title(Chinese) : 執行功能對中文一語及二語學生發展中文詞語認讀能力的影響研究 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Liao, Xian 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) :  
Department : Department of Chinese Language Studies
Institution : The Education University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Dr Hung, On Ying Cathy
Dr Leung, Shing On
Dr Loh, Elizabeth Ka Yee
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Education
Exercise Year : 2019 / 20
Fund Approved : 425,956
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 30-11-2021
Abstract as per original application
Decoding Chinese orthography is complex because Chinese characters’ constituents shared very similar stroke patterns and morphemes which can correspond to the same character. Given the complexity, learners of Chinese as a second language(CSL) often encounter great challenges in word reading. A recent study suggests a series of top-down mental processes, also known as executive function(EF), has a significant association with Chinese word reading in Chinese students (Chung, Lam, & Cheung, 2018), to see patterns and figure out the abstract relations underlying analogies. Yet, the extent to which EF affects CSL learners’ word reading, and the underlying mechanism itself in Chinese word reading remain underexamined. This study aims to fill three important research gaps which are fundamental to understanding word reading difficulties of CSL learners. First, there is no research on the association between EF and word reading in CSL learners. Second, and relatedly, there is no research compares such relation between CSL learners and Chinese students. Word reading process for first- and second-language readers is different in the way that second-language readers are interfered by the dominant language simultaneously. As such, word reading in L2 potentially needs the inhibitory system in EF to suppress the interferences. Whether difficulties in interference control predicts the greater challenges to recognize Chinese written words for CSL learners than the Chinese students is not known. Third, previous studies on the link between EF and Chinese word reading focused on early childhood. The potential differences of the underlying cognitive processes at different stages of reading development has not been considered. This study is designed to address the above issues in order to enrich literature on the decoding of L2 learners. We will recruit two groups of 300students(CSL and Chinese-speaking students) in grade 3,5& 7. Their EF, orthographic knowledge, morphological knowledge, and word reading will be measured; while the effects of age, vocabulary and non-verbal IQ will be controlled. The effects of EF on word reading will be compared between two groups of students across different reading stages, and in relation to those linguistic knowledge. The study will identify the cognitive underpinnings of word reading difficulties among CSL learners at different stages of reading development, and enhance our understanding of the decoding process as a second language. The findings will suggest teachers may develop learning strategies and teaching activities that evoke the awareness of the orthographic structures to facilitate interferences control process and memorize the Chinese characters.
中文字詞的學習並不容易,其中一個原因是漢字由部件構成,許多漢字因而都含有字形相似的部件,而且漢字作為詞素,在不同的語境中往往會對應不同的意思。這讓以中文為第二語言(CSL)的學生在學習中文詞語時頗感困難。當前的研究顯示,學生如需掌握中文字詞潛在的特徵和法則,需進行一系列自上而下的認知過程,這些過程被稱作執行功能。近來的研究表明,在以中文為一語的學生中,他們認讀詞語的能力與執行功能有緊密關聯(Chung, Lam, & Cheung, 2018),但在二語領域,二者的關係如何,尚未得到專門探討,一系列問題亦有待解答。例如執行功能在多大程度上影響學生的詞語認讀、哪些執行功能會影響以及如何影響認讀詞語的表現等。回答這些問題,有助於進一步認識造成二語學生中文閱讀困難的原因。 本研究可彌補當前研究中的三項空白。首先,二語領域中未見探討執行功能與詞語認讀關係的研究;其次,較少研究探討一語和二語學習中,執行功能和認讀詞語的關係會否不同。理論上,二語學生受到其一語的影響,其認讀詞語的過程可能與一語有所不同。特別是二語者可能更多運用執行功能中的抑制功能去排除一語的幹擾,因而抑制功能可能對二語學生認讀表現有更大的預測作用。最後,現有執行功能的相關研究多數以幼兒為對象,尚未探討學生在不同的學習階段執行功能和認讀詞語的關係是否有變。 針對以上研究空白,本研究探討一語和二語學生在認讀詞語時的認知因素。在以中文為一語和二語的三年級、五年級學生中,分別抽選出200名進行研究,總共400名學生。這些學生將接受多項評估,包括執行功能、字形意識、構詞意識、詞語認讀能力等。作為控制變量,學生的年齡、詞匯量和非言語智能的信息亦會被採集。研究小組將分析執行功能對詞語認讀的作用及其與中文語言知識的關係,並比較這些效應在不同年級、不同類型學生中會否不同。 本研究將從認知角度揭示不同階段二語學生詞語認讀困難的影響因素,有助學界更好地認識二語學習字詞時解碼過程。本研究結果亦有助於教師明確非華語學生中文學習困難中的一些成因,從而引導教師制定適切的教學方法和活動,提升學生閱讀相關的執行功能,最終提升學生的中文學習表現。
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