Copying as a method of teaching Chinese | 抄寫中文能否促進孩子的語言發展?


Above: Some children might copy words one stroke at a time in attempt to finish the copying task more quickly. However, this does not help children to learn ultimately. 


Prescribed methods of teaching new characters almost always require children to copy them multiple times. Is this an effective learning strategy? We suspect that copying does help children, but it is more effective and more helpful for older children in middle primary school and above, than it is for kindergartners. Have you ever seen your child or your student write one stroke at a time, repeating the same individual stroke across all ten boxes in which the character is to be copied, and then go back to write the second stroke for all ten, and so on? Many children who are writing mindlessly sometimes do this just to get it done. That is, instead of writing the whole character stroke by stroke to practice it, they write one stroke of the character across all the blank boxes and then return to do the next stroke for all ten. They do this because it seems like less work to finish the homework. This strategy may help them to finish up the homework more quickly, but it does not help them ultimately to learn. This phenomenon underscores the fact that to young children, copying sometimes seems completely meaningless.


In our research with kindergartners, we find that copying is most effective when children's attention is simultaneously drawn to the meaningful parts within the character. For example, when parents or teachers emphasize the individual radicals that are being written with the stroke sequences and what these radicals mean and how they support the meaning of the whole character, learning is enhanced. It is much better to tell a story about the character and only have the child write the character once or twice than it is to have the child write the character ten times without any explanation as to what he or she is doing or why.


For older children, copying is very important for learning. There is the visual-motor aspect of writing of Chinese that is effectively reinforced via copying. This becomes automatic, just as tying our shoes, though it requires a series of steps and sequencing when we are first learning, after awhile can be done almost without thinking or attention to each step (i.e., stroke). Even in young children, copying should be part of learning, but the number of times the child should be asked to copy each character can probably be reduced from what is typical now, perhaps down from ten to two or three, with more attention to each step and why it is important. Chinese writing practice, when introduced in an interesting way, can engage children's skill set on so many levels.


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抄寫文本是傳統中文教學方法中不可或缺的一環。然而此教學策略是否對任何年齡的孩子都一樣有效呢?過往的研究結果顯示,抄寫文本或許對年長的兒童(小三或以上)較為有效。你有否見過你的孩子或學生在抄寫單字時,會出現分開抄寫筆劃的情況?例如:叫孩子抄寫某字十次,他卻沒有按照指示逐隻字抄寫,而是先寫第一劃十次,再寫第二劃十次,如此類推)學生或會為了盡快完成抄寫作業而分開抄寫筆劃。可惜,此抄寫方法將會削弱抄寫練習本來的教學成效。

(上)有時候,孩子為了節省時間,或會選擇以分開抄寫筆劃的方式完成練習。可惜,

如此抄寫的方式根本無法加深學生對字形字義的了解。


我們過往的幼兒研究報告證實,我們能透過鼓勵孩子在抄寫文字的過程中,同時注意其意旁及聲旁和文字之間的關係,來增加抄寫練習的教學成效。因此,我們應在孩子進行抄寫練習之前,先向他們解釋那些字的字型與字義之間的關係,從而加深學生對其字形的印象,令抄寫練習變得更有意義。

抄寫練習對較年長的孩子的語言學習尤其重要。抄寫文本有助孩子視覺運動整合(visual-motor) 的發展,從而加強其書寫能力。學習書寫文字就像學習綁鞋帶的過程一樣,重複完成整個過程才能使動作變得更順暢自然。抄寫文字對幼兒學習語言也有用處,但與其要求孩子重複抄寫多遍,我們或可減少孩子抄寫的次數,確保孩子明白字形與字義的關係,來增加抄寫練習的教學成效。

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