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Title: The use of romanized Chinese by first- and second-grade pupils : challenges in learning pinyin
Author: Xu, Ying
ISNI:       0000 0004 0125 378X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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The challenges in learning pinyin, the romanized Chinese orthography, faced by 5-to-7-year-olds, have received little attention. This study represents an attempt to better understand learning an alphabetic writing system from the viewpoint of the alphabetic principle, in the context of the Chinese language, by examining both reading aloud and spelling, with a particular focus on spelling. To detect the challenges, a pinyin syllable-type test (STT) was developed, in which syllables were classified into seven spelling types guided by the alphabetic principle, where there is a letter-sound correspondence. Syllables of all the lengths under each type of spelling pattern were given to two age groups, 6-year-old first-grade pupils and 7-year-old second-grade pupils, at the start of their school year. The sample consists of a total of 192 pupils. In spelling, the STT reveals that challenges appear when the spelling type departs from the alphabetic principle. The results show that the hardest type of spelling is not the type containing the longest syllables, but a type one-half of that length, for which the correspondence between letters and sounds is abridged, but explicitly taught. In contrast, the latter type poses no problem in the reading-aloud test, where the results show little variation between the spelling types. Comparing the students' performance on the STT shows an order of challenges among the seven types emerging in the first grade. This order is confirmed in the second grade in some types but not others. The pupils' raw data reveal not only what is challenging but also why it is so. Along with an indication of the influence from the local speech, the data also point to the effect of the teaching method, which is more or less uniform all over China. Thus, there is a possible application of the findings to a larger population.
Supervisor: Relly, Susan James Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Pinyin ; pinyin writing system ; primary school ; Putonghua ; spelling ; children ; reading aloud ; education ; Chinese language ; China