Teaching Chinese Characters to Second Language Learners


  • Szandra Ésik Eötvös Loránd University Budapest




teaching Chinese characters, Liù shū (六書), the stroke-oriented habit-forming approach, rote memorization, holistic method, delayed approach, focus on recognition approach, developing grapho-phonological awareness, character color-coding approach, learning


China’s economic and military developments, as well as its political and cultural dominance contribute to its powerful global influence. It is no surprise, therefore, that a growing number of foreigners choose to learn Chinese as a second language. The increasing popularity of the Chinese language indicates that there is a constant need for new research on effective teaching methods.Chinese characters are an integral part of teaching and learning the Chinese language. However, since the Chinese writing system is so unique, it is also one of the most challenging part of the language. Scholars have long been interested in systemizing Chinese characters and finding the most effective ways of teaching. Despite a multitude of previous research, there is still no complete agreement among scholars on many aspects of Chinese characters.This paper examines various proposals on enhancing the teaching of Chinese characters. First, we will examine some universal questions that are related to every language: the connection between reading and writing and the difference between the process of learning to read and write in different writing systems. Finally, our discussion will be narrowed down to the Chinese language and the following more specific questions will be answered: Should foreign learners learn to read and write Chinese characters? Will Chinese characters eventually disappear? Simplified or traditional characters should be taught? Through the investigation and evaluation of several previous studies concerning the theory of teaching Chinese writing and reading, the second part aims to contribute to the Hanzi pedagogy.

Author Biography

Szandra Ésik, Eötvös Loránd University Budapest

Szandra Ésik is a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Linguistics, Sinology Doctoral Programme, Deparment of Chinese Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary.


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How to Cite

Ésik, S. (2020). Teaching Chinese Characters to Second Language Learners. Researching and Teaching Chinese As a Foreign Language, 3(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1558/rtcfl.40506