Inserting spaces into Chinese text helps readers to learn new words: An eye movement study.

Hazel Blythe, Feifei Liang, Chuanli Zang, Jingxin Wang, Guoli Yan, Xuejun Bai, Simon Liversedge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


We examined whether inserting spaces between words in Chinese text would help children learn to read new vocabulary. We recorded adults’ and 7- to 10-year-old children’s eye movements as they read new 2-character words, each embedded in four explanatory sentences (the learning session). Participants were divided into learning subgroups – half read word spaced sentences, and half read unspaced sentences. In the test session participants read the new words again, each in one new sentence; here, all participants read unspaced text. In the learning session, participants in the spaced group read the new words more quickly than participants in the unspaced group. Further, children in the spaced group maintained this benefit in the test session (unspaced text). In relation to three different models of Chinese lexical identification, we argue that the spacing manipulation allowed the children to form either stronger connections between the two characters’ representations and the corresponding, novel word representation, or to form a more fully specified representation of the word itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-254
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


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