Man Gao, Lung-Lung Hu, Jia Yan , Tao Yang TEACHING CHINESE WRITING SYSTEM IN WEB-BASED EDUCATION Challenges of teaching Chinese characters 1. One of the biggest challenges for the Westerners to learn Chinese is the Chinese writing system. For every individual character, students need to learn its meaning and sound separately, as well as remember its structure, composition (various strokes) and produce it in writing. Challenges of teaching Chinese characters 2. In the Chinese distance courses at Högskolan Dalarna, our teachers can only demonstrate how to write characters and give feedbacks to our students by using a mouse to draw on the whiteboard. Needless to say, drawing with a mouse is largely different from writing with a marker pen or a chalk . by mouse by pen Challenges of teaching Chinese characters 3. To find an efficient and effective method of teaching Chinese characters to students who study Chinese as a foreign language as adult and through web-based courses has become a big issue. What did we do? We did an research by the support of NGLcenter of Dalarna University to face these challenges. Our research included three parts: A student survey to collect the students’ opinion Equipment test of some possible complementary equipment Seeking research contribution from other researchers to the similar topic Student survey Student survey The purpose of the student survey is to gather students’ opinion on teaching and learning Chinese characters in a web-based teaching environment. The questionnaire instrument is chosen. • The questionnaire is designed as an online questionnaire, and was sent to 329 students. • The sample are those students who are taking or have taken our Chinese character courses • We got 65 returned questionnaires, with an answer rate of approximately 20%. Student survey Questionnaire design: • Background questions • Main body questions (7-Likert scale, with 1: strongly agree and 7: strongly disagree) • their opinion about the importance of writing Chinese characters in online classroom • Their opinion about the effectiveness of our online classroom in terms of teaching Chinese characters • Their opinion about teaching methods in terms of teaching Chinese characters in web-based teaching environment • Open-end questions • The most difficult part when learning Chinese characters • The most important thing in terms of learning Chinese characters • suggestions Student survey findings The answers to the open question: What is the most difficult part with regard to learning Chinese characters? • To remember the characters • They are many • Some of them are very complex 餐、嘱 • Difficult to remeber them for a long period of time • To distinguish the differences of the form-like characters (土 / 士； 尤/龙) • To match sound, meaning and written form of a character • To write a character neatly Student survey findings The evaluation to: The importance of writing Chinese characters by hand. (7-Likert scale, with 1: strongly agree and 7: strongly disagree) Student survey findings The evaluation to: The importance of the teacher’s demonstration of writing Chinese characters stroke by stroke by hand in online classroom. (7-Likert scale, with 1: strongly agree and 7: strongly disagree) Student survey findings The evaluation to: The importance that the students are given opportunities to practise writing Chinese character by hand in online classroom. (7-Likert scale, with 1: strongly agree and 7: strongly disagree) Student survey findings The evaluation to: The effectiveness of the equipment in our online classroom with regard to writing Chinese characters by hand. (7-Likert scale, with 1: strongly agree and 7: strongly disagree) Student survey findings Age group distribution of the statement: Whether using pictures helps the studnets recognize the Characters in written form? (7-Likert scale, with 1: strongly agree and 7: strongly disagree) Student survey findings Age group distribution of the statement: Whether using vedio films helps the studnets recognize the Characters in written form? (7-Likert scale, with 1: strongly agree and 7: strongly disagree) Student survey findings Age group distribution of the statement: Whether written assignments help the studnets recognize the Characters in written form? (7-Likert scale, with 1: strongly agree and 7: strongly disagree) Main findings from the student survey It is very important that the students learn to write the Chinese characters by hand, thus: It is very important that the teachers demonstrate how to write a Chinese character by hand during online class-room teaching. Pictures and videos are very helpful in learning Chinese characters, however, different age groups have differed opinions, younger students value these methods more. The traditional written assignments of handwriting practices is regarded as a very effective way to recognize and remember the characters. Again, different age groups have differed opinions, older students value this method more. The explanation of the origin and development of the characters under time is also proved to be a good way of helping the students to recognize and remember them. Equipment test WRITING PAD & CAMERA Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch 460 Wacom Bamboo Pen and Touch 670 Written with mouse Written with writing pad Written with writing pad Written with mouse Students evaluation of the tested equipment After testing of each equipment, we gave students a questionnaire to let them evaluate the teaching result. The next slide is an example of the summary of students’ respondents to such a questinnair. Equipment test We found the tested writing pad is also good at helping the teachers to correct the students’ handwriting assignments, which are usually handed in as pdf-files or jpgfiles. Theoretical support VISUAL COGNITION IN ONLINE TEACHING Basic knowledge of Chinese characters 1. One Chinese character has three basic elements: semantic radical, phonetic radical, and non-semantic or non-phonetic element. Ex: 河 (river) 2. Singular-character: as a semantic-radical or as a picture, with self-sufficient meaning and sound. Ex: 口 (mouth) 3. Multi (or compound)-character: can be dissected to semantic and phonetic radicals, which possibly can be taken disassembled also. 淅 （clear）= 水 + 析 （= 木 + 斤） 1. Strategies on Chinese character learning Non-Chinese native speakers uses many strategies to memorize Chinese characters, one of these strategies is to memorize Chinese characters according to their shapes and radicals. (Visual cognition) [T]he students (English-speaking first-year college students) used seven types of strategy. 1. Rote repetition. 2. Creation of their own idiosyncratic stories about the characters. 3. Use of orthographic knowledge (beginner)…. Most students considered knowledge of radicals more useful than creating their own stories. (McGinnis, 1999; Ke, 1998) Learning strategies among German-speaking college CFL learners at (all) levels… used 15 kinds of learning strategies…. 1. Repeated writing. 2. Using vocabulary cards (flash cards). 3. Decomposition of the compound characters into radicals or other components…. (Tseng, 2000) The results indicate that among the cognitive strategies, the learners considered orthographic-knowledge-based strategies (make use of the three aspects of radical knowledge, graphemics, semantics, and phonetics) to be most useful for leaning characters and this perception became stronger as the learning level increases. (60) “Shen, Helen H.. An investigation of Chinese-character learning strategies among nonnative speakers of Chinese. System 33 (2005) 49-68”. 2. Visual Cognition and Chinese characters teaching 2.1. Where is it in our brains and its activation Different from alphabetic system based languages, mind is functioning differently when we read Chinese characters. More bilateral activation in the visual cortex has been shown for Chinese character reading, and some have suggested that this is due to the greater demands on visual-spatial analysis. The left middle frontal gyrus is often found activated in Chinese character reading, but rarely in alphabetic reading. (1865) “Yuan Deng, James R. Booth, Tai-Li Chou, Guo-Sheng Ding, Dan-Ling Peng (2007): Item-specific and generalization effects on brain activation when learning Chinese characters. Neuropsychologia 46 (2008) 1864-1876”. 2.2. The relation between Chinese characters and visual cognition For beginners, categorization of Chinese characters is based on their shapes, radicals, structures, strokes, and some special features. Categorization provides a mechanism for rapid information processing (e.g., Ingling, 1972)…. In this aspect, since Chinese is a logographic system, it may depend more on the visual/graphemic aspects than alphabetic system (Biederman & Tsao, 1979; Chen, Flores d’Arcais, & Cheung, 1995; Chen & Juola, 1982; Leck et al., 1995; Park & Arbuckle, 1977; Sasanuma, 1975; Wang, 1973) “Su-Ling Yeh, Jing-Ling Li, Tatsuto Takeuchi, Vincent Sun and Wen-Ren Liu (2003): The role of learning experience on the perceptual organization of Chinese characters, Visual Cognition, 10:6, 729-764”. 3. Radical based Chinese characters teaching 3.1. From characters to radicals Previous researchers thought that Chinese characters were recognized orthographically which means that Chinese characters in learning are holistic and inseparable units, and that semantic radicals contribute less than characters. But in ‘Laurie Beth Feldman and Witina W. T. Siok (1999): Semantic Radicals Contribute to the Visual Identification of Chinese Characters. Journal of Memory and Language 40, 559-576, it mentions that although the research in this article does not confirm that radical is more important than orthography, but it tells us that semantic radicals are equally important. The present study examines how Chinese characters are processed and organized in the mental lexicon and focuses on the processing of one type of character component, the semantic radical. (559) And also, in ‘Connie Suk-Han Ho, Wai-Ling Wong, and Wing-Sau Chan (1999): The use of orthographic analogies in learning to read Chinese. J. Child Psychol. Psychiat. Vol. 40, No. 3, 393-403’: making phonological and semantic analogies by radicals can help students to learn Chinese characters; and Chinese teachers also “should consider starting to teach the roles and functions of the phonetics and radicals” to help student using their ability of analogy. 4. Pedagogy in Chinese characters teaching Teaching semantic and phonetic radicals 1. Collect Chinese characters that share the same semantic radical. Focus on the shape and meaning of radical and then the shape and meaning of character that can increase students’ visual cognition. 2. Collect Chinese characters that share the same phonetic radical. Focus on semantic phonetic compound Chinese characters, help students remember the pronunciation. 3. Collect “semi-regular” characters and phonetic families that contains partial information about the pronunciation and. (1, 2 and 3 can be proceeded altogether because one Chinese character is a unity which is composed of semantic and phonetic radicals) 4. Clarify the relation between semantic and phonetic radicals to prevent students from choosing the characters which have the correct sounds but wrong meanings. 5. Chinese characters “autopsy” practice: dissect one character into many elements. 6. Teaching exceptional radicals and characters. The shapes of Chinese characters 1. Collect Chinese characters with the same or similar shape, help students memorize. 2. Collect Chinese characters with different shape, help students distinguish. Other possible ways of teaching 1. For helping student memorize, teachers can improvisationally interpret Chinese characters. 2. Orthography and rote repetition remained. 3. Apply traditional Chinese linguistics on teaching the pronunciations of Chinese characters. 4. Apply the advantage of e-learning on Chinese characters teaching.