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The Effects Of Chinese Character Recognition Instruction On The English Reading Readiness Skills Of Chinese- And Non-Chinese-Speaking Kindergarten Students

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The Problem. Presently Chinese bilingual educators are divided in their opinions on the desirability of introducing initial reading in Chinese in an American school setting. A review of research studies found that data on the effects of Chinese reading instruction in a bilingual program was lacking. The present study was designed to examine the effects of Chinese character recognition instruction on the English reading readiness of Chinese and non-Chinese speaking kindergarten students. The study attempted to provide baseline data, information and recommendations for further research for Chinese bilingual education programs. Procedures. A quasi-experimental design using control and experimental groups was utilized. Chinese and non-Chinese-speaking experimental and control kindergarten students were pretested with The Metropolitan Readiness and The Slingerland Pre-reading Screening Procedures. The experimental students were given Chinese character recognition instruction over a six week period. Twenty-two Chinese characters were taught during fifteen instructional sessions. Post tests were given to all the students. A Chinese character recognition test was developed and given to the experimental students. The collected data were analyzed using the Analysis of Covariance and the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Analysis. Findings. Results of data analysis supported positive effects of Chinese character instruction on student skills in letter recognition, copying of patterns and copying from memory. Positive correlation between Chinese character recognition ability and overall English reading readiness, letter recognition, and intellectual maturity as measured by the draw-a-man test were also found. Conclusions and Recommendations. Findings of the study indicated that Chinese character instruction is probably more effective than English reading readiness instruction commonly practiced in the classroom for the improvement of certain reading readiness skills. A cause and effect relationship is probable between Chinese character instruction and the improvement in skills in letter recognition and pattern copying. Since the sample of the study was small, larger sample studies are recommended to determine the generalizability of the findings of this study. Studies using structured observations of student behaviors in utilizing strategies learned from Chinese instruction in English reading readiness activities were also recommended.

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