Positional character frequency and word spacing facilitate the acquisition of novel words during Chinese children’s reading.

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Children's eye movements were recorded to examine the role of word spacing and positional character frequency on the process of Chinese lexical acquisition during reading. Three types of two-character novel pseudowords were constructed: words containing characters in positions in which they frequently occurred (congruent), words containing characters in positions they do not frequently occur in (incongruent) and words containing characters that do not have a strong position bias (balanced). There were two phases within the experiment, a learning phase and a test phase. There were also two learning groups: half the children read sentences in a word-spaced format and the other half read the sentences in an unspaced format during the learning phase. All the participants read normal, unspaced text at test. A benefit of word spacing was observed in the learning phase, but not at test. Also, facilitatory effects of positional character congruency were found both in the learning and test phase; however, this benefit was greatly reduced at test. Furthermore, we did not find any interaction between word spacing and positional character frequencies, indicating that these two types of cues affect lexical acquisition independently. With respect to theoretical accounts of lexical acquisition, we argue that word spacing might facilitate the very earliest stages of word learning by clearly demarking word boundary locations. In contrast, we argue that characters' positional frequencies might affect relatively later stages of word learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-608
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Volume27
Issue number5
Early online date29 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes

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