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Investigating CFL Learners’ Dependency on Pinyin in the Acquisition of Vocabulary Meaning

Pin Ling Lee and Paramaswari Jaganathan

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 28, Issue S2, December 2020

Published: 18 March 2020

The main task in the teaching and learning of Chinese vocabulary is to cultivate the ability of foreign students in recognizing, discriminating, choosing and using accurate words. However, the nature of Chinese characters in logographic form makes the reading and learning of the Chinese language more challenging. Every Chinese character carries not only the pronunciation (“yin”) and meaning (“yi”), but also the writing (“xing”). Hence, Chinese vocabulary acquisition includes the recognition of Chinese characters, the articulation of characters and the knowledge of the characters’ meanings. Classroom practices indicated that beginner-level learners of Chinese-as-a foreign language (CFL) rely heavily on word articulation via Pinyin or phonetic alphabet orthography to comprehend the meaning of words. Therefore, this paper investigated the CFL learners’ dependency on Pinyin to acquire the meaning of words. A total of 60 CFL learners participated in this study. They were given a written task to write the meaning of 30 Chinese words in the target language in two situations; firstly without provision of Pinyin and then with the provision of Pinyin. The results showed that the mean score of words comprehended accurately without Pinyin is 5.817 out of 30 words. The words comprehended with the provision of Pinyin showed a higher score of 25.483/30. The high dependency of Pinyin to acquire the word meaning implied that more teaching and learning of written word recognition should be imposed in the CFL beginner-level classroom.

ISSN 0128-7702

e-ISSN 2231-8534

Article ID

JSSH(S)-1262-20

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