Reading and Writing

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 559–586 | Cite as

The role of lexical knowledge and related linguistic components in typical and poor language comprehenders of Chinese



The present study adapted the “Blueprint of the Reader” in comprehending language by Perfetti [2000, C. M. Brown & P. Hagoort. (Eds.), The neurocognition of language (pp. 167–208). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press] as a framework for understanding Chinese language and reading comprehension in a group of 361 secondary Forms 1, 3 and 4 Cantonese-speaking Chinese students (mean age of 15 years) in Hong Kong. This framework with some modifications was tested with nine specially designed Chinese language and reading tasks with reasonably high reliability and surface validity. The main hypothesis was that lexical knowledge consisting of derivational morphology; correction of characters, words and sentences; segmentation of text into phrases and sentences; and writing to dictation should explain considerable individual variations, as shown in the English literature. This was tested with component analyses and multiple regression analyses. The total battery accounted for 66.80% of the variation while lexical knowledge alone explained 33.51% of the individual variation in the overall school performance in Chinese reading and writing. The second hypothesis was that subgroups of poor and good language and reading comprehenders in Chinese would be expected to show overlapping yet different component structures and their performance in the individual component tasks would be expected to differ as tested with analyses of variance. The results confirmed this hypothesis. Task analyses of the written protocols of essay writing and of morphological processing (prefixing and suffixing) provided insight into well-formed and poorly formed writing and word formation according to principles of Chinese psycholinguistics and yielded information for theory-based practice.


“Blueprint of the Reader” Chinese language and reading comprehension Lexical knowledge Poor language and reading comprehenders Written protocol analyses 



The study was assisted with a grant from the Hong Kong Education Bureau (HKEDB). We thank HKEDB, Suk Han Lee and Suk Man Tsang of the Bureau for all their assistance. We also thank the principals, teachers, students and their parents in the three secondary schools for their participation and cooperation in the project. We appreciate the advice from Pui Kuen Au of Ho Man Tin Secondary School of HKEDB and the permission from Zhang Shi-rong for the use of his cartoons. We are grateful to our research assistants for their careful and hard work in the schools, their scoring and task analyses of the protocols. The views expressed are ours and do not represent those of HKEDB.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Educational Psychology and Special EducationUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  2. 2.The Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.Department of Curriculum and InstructionThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina

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