Many students of Chinese as a second language opt out of learning handwriting characters. My impression (from my personal experience) is that the proportion of beginner students who learn handwriting is much lower than the proportion of advanced students who learn handwriting.

In other words, if...

  • Beginner: x% of students learn handwriting;
  • Intermediate: y% of students learn handwriting;
  • Advanced: z% of students learn handwriting,

then I feel x < y < z.

I'm curious as to whether this is actually true. The most relevant paper I found was Lu, Ostrow, Heffernan, Save Your Strokes: Chinese Handwriting Practice Makes for Ineffective Use of Instructional Time in Second Language Classrooms, AERA Open (2019), but it doesn't address this particular topic.

Question: How does the proportion of Chinese-language students who learn handwriting change with level?

  • It seems like there's a bit of definitional problem, since the idea of 'beginner', 'intermediate', 'advanced' levels in a language typically include writing. For example, if I met a native Japanese who spoke English fluently and nearly flawlessly, but could not write anything out accurately at all without writing it in Katakana first and then transliterating it using a table (for example), then I would have to give him at least a demerit of some sort or a note such as "low level in handwriting" in his assessment score. In other words, the definition of advanced already includes writing.
    – Brandin
    Dec 1, 2022 at 13:39
  • For Chinese and Japanese there may be a second level though, since the number of characters in principle is unbounded. For this, defining it as a simple yes/no (knows characters or not?) is a bit problematic. One student of such languages (or native speakers) may indeed know more characters than another, or may make tend to draw the characters he knows more accurately or with fewer mistakes, and so on.
    – Brandin
    Dec 1, 2022 at 13:43
  • If you want answers based on studies, you can make this explicit and add the tag reference-request. (If you don't require answers based on studies, you don't need to change anything.)
    – Tsundoku
    Dec 15, 2022 at 10:14


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.