Chinese Text Presentations and Reading Efficiency

Yu, Qiaona
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University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Center for Language & Technology
Unlike alphabetic languages, Chinese text marks no word demarcation. Previous research inserted word-demarcating spaces into Chinese text but found inconsistent effects on reading efficiency. To address the potential trade-off effects of the additional length caused by inserted spaces, this study introduces color-and-font formatting as a word demarcation. A total of 41 first-language (L1) and English-speaking second-language (L2) Chinese speakers read Chinese text presented in conventional, interword spaced, nonword spaced, interword formatted, and nonword formatted conditions. Participants further answered comprehension questions and shared retrospective perceptions. The results suggest altered text presentations can facilitate reading for L2 Chinese learners in accordance with proficiency levels and learning objectives. Interword spaced text facilitated reading speed, especially for higher-level Chinese learners. Interword formatted text facilitated accuracy for all L2 Chinese learners. Nonword formatted text facilitated accuracy for lower-level Chinese learners. In addition, altered text presentations were generally acknowledged and welcomed by L2 Chinese learners.
L2 Chinese reading, reading efficiency, reading speed, reading accuracy, word demarcation, space, formatting
Yu, Q. (2022). Chinese text presentations and reading efficiency. Reading in a Foreign Language, 34(1), 142-164.
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