Phonological decoding in orthographic learning: evidence from Chinese
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 11:20 authored by Luan Li
An important part of children's reading development is the transition from laboriously sounding out a word to automatic word recognition, which is referred to as orthographic learning. In this thesis, I examine the role of phonological decoding in the process of orthographic learning. I also apply theories and findings generated in alphabetic languages to a non-alphabetic language, Chinese. This thesis is presented in three parts. Firstly, a broad literature review on the role of phonological decoding in reading development is presented. In particular, the phase theory and the self-teaching hypothesis are discussed, with empirical evidence in several languages examined. The review also identifies a lack of empirical studies of non-alphabetic languages, and proposes how phonological decoding can be investigated in orthographic learning in Chinese. Next, drawing on the literature review, an empirical study is presented to examine the mechanisms of phonological decoding in Chinese, and to address whether they make a direct contribution to orthographic learning. Two research questions are tested: 1) Whether and how Chinese children use phonetic radicals, the "internal approach" and, 2) Zhuyin, the "external approach" for phonological decoding and orthographic learning. The findings support that both approaches are adopted for phonological decoding in Chinese. However, only the internal approach directly contributes to orthographic learning. Finally, theoretical implications of the findings are discussed. Directions for future research are also outlined.