Chinese character acquisition and visual skills in two Chinese scripts

Catherine MCBRIDE-CHANG*, Bonnie W.-Y. CHOW, Yiping ZHONG, Stephen BURGESS, William G. HAYWARD

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


Three different visual skills, along with Chinese character recognition, vocabulary, speeded naming, and syllable deletion skills were tested twice over one school year among 118 Hong Kong and 96 Xiangtan, China kindergartners. Results revealed that a task of Visual Spatial Relationships [Gardner, M. F. (1996). Test of visual-perceptual skills (Non-motor): Revised manual. Hydesville, CA: Psychological and Educational Publications] predicted unique variance in Chinese character recognition, controlling for other skills, at Time 1 among Hong Kong children and at Time 2 in Xiangtan children. The three visual skills were inconsistently affected by age and reading skill. Across testing times, visual skills of the Xiangtan children, who learn simplified script, were significantly higher than those of the Hong Kong children, learning traditional script. Results suggest a bidirectional association of visual skills with Chinese character acquisition across scripts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-128
Number of pages30
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to the parents, teachers, and kindergartners of Xiangtan and Hong Kong, China, for facilitating the testing done for this study. This study was supported by grant#2020723 from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and RGC grants #4325/0lH and #4257/03H from the Hong Kong government.


  • Chinese
  • Chinese characters
  • Literacy
  • Reading
  • Script
  • Visual skills


Dive into the research topics of 'Chinese character acquisition and visual skills in two Chinese scripts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this