Effects of voiced-pronunciation and stroke sequence animation on production of characters by beginners of Chinese as a foreign language

Yu Zhu, Purdue University


In the field of teaching Chinese as a foreign language (TCFL), many beginning learners were attracted by the unique Chinese writing system, but meanwhile, they also experienced considerable frustrations in production of learned characters. The literature has focused on character recognition, and suggested ways to improve recognition. But so far, there have been very few studies concerned production of characters. Furthermore, although learners' needs and concerns were undoubtedly felt, limited by classroom resources, Chinese teachers normally could do very few to address character production problems during teaching sessions. Thus, learners typically had to struggle lonely through the process of character production. Fortunately, with more and more sophisticated computer-based multimedia instructional materials becoming available in the field, learners of today have access to various out-of-classroom resources on character memorization and production that were unavailable to many earlier learners. Studies on the effects of these electronic materials on learners' character production, however, remain scarce. This study was designed to examine the effects of voiced-pronunciation and stroke sequence animation, two frequently selected inputs in Chinese multimedia flashcards, on production of characters by beginners of Chinese as a foreign language. One hundred students, enrolled in an elementary Chinese course at a large Mid-western university, participated. Students were divided into four treatment groups. Four different formats of computer-based multimedia flashcards of the same vocabulary list were developed for this study. Each group was required to memorize and produce afterwards the characters on the assigned flashcards. The instrument was administered as one pretest and two post-tests to examine the individual and interaction effects of the two concerned media inputs. Findings of this study were that the group that viewed characters displayed with both voice and animation (WVWA) performed significantly worse, while the group with voice only (WVNA) scored much better than the rest of the experimental groups. Explanations and discussions were provided from the perspective of dual-coding theory (Paivio, 1986; Clark & Paivio, 1991). Further investigations on the effect of stroke sequence animation are needed to determine, for example, whether this medium can assist learners' mastery of proper stroke sequences.




Garfinkel, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Language arts|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

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