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  1. Identify a range of individual and cultural differences that impact on learning and memory.

  2. Describe the key processes involved in learning and memorising a new language

  3. Critically evaluate and apply findings from current literature

  4. Demonstrate the ability to write a psychological report

The Role of Semantic Radicals in Chinese Language Learning

Chinese language usually has a complex writing system. The writing system is also famously known because of its visual complexity. This complexity poses a great challenge for non- Chinese native learners. This is even more challenging to those students who use alphabets in their first language. Understanding semantic radicals is crucial to all learners who wish to understand Chinese language. Understanding the relationship that exists between written word and its meaning is a critical factor in understanding language (Gass, Spinner & Behney, 2017).

Ying Liu and Perfetti conducted two experiments seeking to understand how adult readers learn to acquire the orthographic structure and function of Chinese characters selected from reading materials from their Chinese course. The first experiment was an internet based decision assignment which tested vocabularies. It found that with only few vocabularies and no explicit instruction, the learners paid attention to character’s curriculum frequency and internal composition features. These findings were found to be consistent with previous findings (Saito, Sun & Tierney, 2018).The second experiment tested the student’s ability to grasp the orthographic component function of Chinese character both implicitly and explicitly. The participants were given an assignment of identifying characters. The experiment found that students required to be triggered so that they could make use of functional cue of the known semantic radicals. The experiment also found that providing the learner with explicit instruction led the learner to understand more information from known semantic radicals, more so the low-frequency ones compared to prior to receiving such directions (Indrarathne & Kormos, 2017).

More recent studies indicate that use of explicit instruction of semantic radical is an efficient way of enhancing learners’ understanding of Chinese characters (Gooch, Saito & Lyster, 2016). Chinese second learner adults are often taught using implicit method. This is because of the complexity of the semantic radicals. It seems that there is fear that this complexity of the semantic radicals may lead to a misunderstanding of the language rather than a better understanding of the language among the adult learners. However, this fear is cast away through recent evidence which indicates that knowledge of the semantic radical function may be helpful to character learning and improved understanding. Chinese character composition is totally different from English which is based on alphabet (Ortega, 2014). Due to the language complexity, understanding the language has become challenging to many learners. Despite this complexity, understanding of Chinese language has become necessary due to the tremendous improvement of the Chinese economy in the world. This research paper focused on understanding of Chinese language among the adults who learn Chinese as a second language. The paper focused on answering the following questions;

  1. How easy is it for adult who are learning Chinese as a second language to understand the functional role of semantic radical? This study hypothesized those adults who are learning Chinese as a second language can easily understand the functional role of semantic radicals.

  2. Can learners apply the knowledge taught on semantic radicals to determine the meaning of characters not taught? This study hypothesized that learners will apply knowledge of taught semantic radicals to determine the meaning of characters not taught.

  3. Can explicit teaching of functions and meaning of semantic radicals improve second learner understanding? This study hypothesized that learning will improve through explicit teaching of the meaning of semantic radicals.

The Importance of Explicit Instruction to Learners

Participants who received explicit instruction seem to perform better in the immediate recall test in regular semantic character with a score of 64.78% when compared to those who received implicit instructions who scored 60.12%. When provided with the irregular semantic character test, the group who received implicit instruction led with 56.15% while the other group scored 54.93%.

On the other hand, in the generalization test, the explicit group scored 56.04% while the implicit group scored 35.06% when tested for what they had already been taught. When the two groups were provided with a test that tested what they had not been taught, the explicit group scored 43.955% while the implicit group scored 37.04% (Williams & Rebuschat, 2016).

Generally, the results shows that the group which received explicit instruction scored better when compared to the group which received implicit instructions. This is more so evident in the results of the generalized test.

 The findings of this research clearly present the role that intensive instruction on the meaning and functions of semantic radicals have in adult learning. The findings also illustrate the importance of explicit instruction to learners. Results of the findings indicate that explicit instruction enabled learners to score higher in the immediate recall test when compared to learners who only receive implicit instructions. The findings also indicate that implicit learning is more efficient in helping learners to remember the irregular semantic characters. However it should be noted that the score difference between the two groups in irregular character is slightly lower than in regular characters. The score on irregular characters for the two groups is slightly able fifty percent for the two groups. The score for regular characters for the two groups is more than percent. This observation shows that explicit study ensures that the learner is imparted with more knowledge that is useful to the learner (Nassaji, 2016). Explicit instructions are also seen to improve the ability of the learner to relate and remember what has been taught previously.

The benefits of explicit instructions are more evident on the generalized results. Learners who received intense instruction generally scored better both on the test of new character and the test for what they had initially been taught.

The results from this research clearly validate the three hypotheses for this research. The results shows that adult learners can learn with ease the functional role of semantic radicals. The study also found that the knowledge learnt on functional role of semantic radicals is useful in helping learners to find the meaning of other characters which they have not been taught. Finally, the study found that providing intensive instruction to students will lead to improved learning experience. It will enable the learner to understand the Chinese language with ease (Ullman  & Lovelett, 2018). This multifaceted nature brings a great deal of difficulties to non Chinese who might wish to take in the dialect. This investigation expected to comprehend the effect of utilizing unequivocal guidance to grown-up students who are not locals of china. The theories for this paper were; grown-ups who are learning Chinese as a second dialect can without much of a stretch comprehend the utilitarian job of semantic radicals; students will apply information of showed semantic radicals to decide the importance of characters not instructed; and that learning will enhance through express educating of significance of semantic radicals.

The Benefits of Intensive Instruction

The results in this study give hope to international adults who find it difficult to learn the Chinese language as a second language. They can use the intense instruction provided in the knowledge of radical semantic to find meaning for new characters. The results of this research concur with what previous research found on the importance of explicit knowledge. This can be attributed to the methodology used to collect data from participants. The participants who provided data for this research had no experience in verbal or written Chinese. This ensured that the information collected was not biased and no participant had an advantage over the other. The entire number respondents selected were conversant with English, a language that was used to examine them (Goo, Granena,  Yilmaz, & Novella, 2015).

Several studies have been conducted on the subject of whether to provide learner implicit or explicit knowledge on Chinese language teaching. This paper intended to provide more insight on this subject. This study has also established the role of intense instruction to learners of Chinese language. With proper incorporation of explicit instruction in teaching Chinese language to non Chinese native, much can be accomplished and the understanding can be enhanced (Andringa & Rebuschat, 2015).

This study had its limitations. Its main limitation was on the sample selected. The sample selected was slightly small. This might have affected the generalization of results obtained. Another limitation was on the composition of the sample. The gender in the sample selected was not balanced. Language affects both genders equally and it is therefore necessary to have a representation of both genders in the sample. Future research should consider selecting a larger sample in the collection of data (Yilmaz & Grañena, 2016).

References

Andringa, S., & Rebuschat, P. (2015). New directions in the study of implicit and explicit learning: An introduction. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 37(2), 185-196.

Gass, S. M., Spinner, P., & Behney, J. (Eds.). (2017). Salience in second language acquisition. Routledge.

Goo, J., Granena, G., Yilmaz, Y., & Novella, M. (2015). Implicit and explicit instruction in L2 learning. Implicit and explicit learning of languages, 48, 443-482.

Gooch, R., Saito, K., & Lyster, R. (2016). Effects of recasts and prompts on L2 pronunciation development: Teaching English/?/to Korean adult EFL learners. System, 60, 117-127.

Indrarathne, B., & Kormos, J. (2017). Attentional Processing of Input in Explicit and Implicit Conditions: An Eye-Tracking Study. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 39(3), 401-430.

Nassaji, H. (2016). Research timeline: Form-focused instruction and second language acquisition. Language Teaching, 49(1), 35-62.

Ortega, L. (2014). Understanding second language acquisition. Routledge.

Saito, K., Sun, H., & Tierney, A. (2018). Explicit and implicit aptitude effects on second language speech learning: Scrutinizing segmental and suprasegmental sensitivity and performance via behavioural and neurophysiological measures. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1-18.

Suzuki, Y., & DeKeyser, R. (2017). The interface of explicit and implicit knowledge in a second language: Insights from individual differences in cognitive aptitudes. Language Learning, 67(4), 747-790.

Ullman, M. T., & Lovelett, J. T. (2018). Implications of the declarative/procedural model for improving second language learning: The role of memory enhancement techniques. Second Language Research, 34(1), 39-65.

Williams, J., & Rebuschat, P. (2016). Implicit learning and second language acquisition. Routledge.

Yilmaz, Y., & Grañena, G. (2016). The role of cognitive aptitudes for explicit language learning in the relative effects of explicit and implicit feedback. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 19(1), 147-161.

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