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Title: The influence of L1 background and other meta-linguistic and background variables on the learning of Pinyin and Hanzi by Arabic and English learners of Chinese as a second language
Author: Zhang, Haiwei
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 7083
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2017
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Alphabetic Pinyin and morphosyllabic Hanzi are two different writing systems used in the Chinese language. Though Pinyin and Hanzi utilize different orthographies, the development of literacy skills in both writing systems depends on phonological processing skills. Becoming aware of the phonological structure in Chinese and the orthographic structure in Hanzi are crucial for the growth of literacy skills in Pinyin and Hanzi. The present study investigated the influence of L1 background and other meta-linguistic and background variables on Chinese phonological awareness, phonetic radical awareness, Pinyin spelling, Hanzi reading and Hanzi writing among adult Arabic and English CSL learners. There are five important findings from this study. First, L1 background influenced the performance in Chinese phonological awareness and Pinyin spelling, in which the English participants outperformed the Arabic participants arguably due to the greater similarities in phonology and orthography between English and Pinyin. Second, the Arabic participants’ better achievements in Hanzi writing compared to the English participants might originate from their experience in using the Arabic script and in learning two different scripts. Third, the two CSL groups did not differ in phonetic radical awareness or Hanzi reading, probably due to the unique characteristics of Hanzi orthography and the far distance between Arabic, English and Hanzi. Fourth, L1 background influenced the importance of phonological awareness and phonetic radical awareness in developing Chinese literacy skills, which might relate to the different orthographies used in English and Arabic, as well as the learning contexts. Fifth, Chinese language proficiency, the length of staying in China, the number of languages previously learnt, phonological working memory and phonetic coding ability significantly predicted the Arabic and English CSL learners’ performance in these measures. Theoretical implications for understanding the role of L1 transfer in L2 literacy acquisition, and educational implications for teaching Chinese as a second language were discussed.
Supervisor: Roberts, Leah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available