Toward a Dynamic Interactive Model of Non-Native Chinese Character Processing

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Previous studies have suggested that word processing in English as a second language (L2) is affected by first language (L1) orthographic features. However, little is known about what affects L2 Chinese character processing in adult Chinese learners with different L1 orthographies such as Japanese, Korean, and English. With a picture-character mapping task, we found that when no cue was provided, the Japanese and Korean groups used semantic and phonetic radicals equally, whereas the English group preferred semantic radicals. With semantic (or phonetic) cues, all 3 groups showed increased use of semantic (phonetic) radicals, but the English group benefited less from phonetic cues than the Korean group, and the Japanese group benefited more from semantic cues than the other 2 groups. These results support a non-native Chinese character processing model (NCCP), which reflects the properties of the Chinese writing system and assumes a dynamic interaction between L1–L2 orthographies and learners’ instructional experience.

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