SuiWah Chan
Paper presented at 2014 Annual Chinese Language Association of Michigan (CLAM) Conference at Mc Gregor Memorial Center, Wayne State University

Date: November 8, 2014
Conference Theme:”Maximizing Learning and Instruction


One of the most daunting tasks for the beginning students is to keep track of all the new characters for the vocabulary they are learning. Without the ability to quickly and accurately identify characters even simple texts become a discouraging exercise in frustration. As identified by research, this lack of “automaticity” is a major factor in students becoming discouraged and dropping out of Chinese language programs. Working with a high school history class at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, a new method for using an etymological approach was tried to see if the students could quickly learn enough characters to work with key Chinese terms and concepts in the original. This methodology, and the test data for this innovative approach, will be presented and participants will be able to experience this technique and discuss the implications for use in a language classroom.


A new curriculum for teaching Chinese characters based on etymology pedagogy was recently tested at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The results show that this curriculum has enormous potential to “beat the learning curve” by enabling beginning students to quickly and accurately identify characters.