Reading and Writing

, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 441–461 | Cite as

Morphological awareness and learning to read Chinese

  • Wei-Lun Chung
  • Chieh-Fang Hu


This study investigated the nature of morphological awareness and its relation to learning to read Chinese characters among 46 Chinese-speaking preschool children. The children took a morphological awareness task, which varied in semantic transparency and morpheme position. Children’s vocabulary knowledge and extant character reading ability were measured. Additionally, a character learning task was administered. Results showed that children’s performances on morphological awareness were affected by semantic transparency but not by morpheme position. Morphological awareness was related to vocabulary knowledge when partialling out character reading ability but not to character reading ability after partialling out vocabulary knowledge. The results of the character learning task further revealed that morphological awareness was related to character identification in the words that were just taught but not to character identification in the words that were not taught or in pseudowords. The relation between morphological awareness and character identification ceased to be significant when partialling out the variance in children’s prior knowledge of the characters to be learnt. Taken together, the findings suggested that vocabulary knowledge may play a more important role than reading ability in the initial development of morphological awareness and that the facilitative effect of morphological knowledge in reading does not seem to be significant in the very initial stages of reading acquisition.


Morphological awareness Reading ability Reading Chinese Semantic transparency Vocabulary knowledge 


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This research was partially supported by research grants from National Science Council, Taiwan, to the second author (NSC92-2411-H133-002; NSC93-2411-H133-001).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Institute of LinguisticsFu Jen Catholic UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of English InstructionTaipei Municipal University of EducationTaipeiTaiwan, Republic of China

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