2008．第17卷第1期（Vol. 17 No. 1）．pp. 7397
An Exploratory Study of the Various Ways that Children Read and Write Unknown Chinese Characters
Most psychological studies on the learning of Chinese characters assume that children can easily analyze a character into its semantic and phonetic radicals. Rather than this, the present study explores how 17 Grade One to Three children actually went about reading and writing a number of whole characters unknown to them. The major findings are: First, the children indeed were able to make use of the semantic and phonetic radicals to infer the meaning and sound of an unknown character. Second, a major problem of the children is to erroneously use a component other than the semantic radical to make inferences about the meaning of an unknown character. Third, the children on the basis of the sound of the phonetic radical mistook an unknown character as another character homophonous to the sound. Fourth, the children less often made use of their knowledge about the semantic radicals in the task of writing an unknown character than that of reading.
Keywords: learning Chinese characters; semantic and phonetic radicals; children’s errors