ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (10): 1277-1286.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.01277

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 Word superiority effect for low proficiency Korean-Chinese learners

 CHEN Lin1; ZHONG Luojin2; LENG Ying3   

  1.  (1 School of Foreign Languages, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China) (2 School of Professional Development and Research on Primary and Secondary Education, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510631, China) (3 School of Education Science, Nantong University, Nantong 226019, China)
  • Received:2017-01-03 Published:2017-10-25 Online:2017-08-13
  • Contact: LENG Ying, E-mail: E-mail: E-mail:
  • Supported by:

Abstract:  Studies of both low proficiency Thai-Chinese learners and Indonesian-Chinese learners have found that character in a real word was more easily recognized than that in a non-word regardless of character frequency. In this study, two experiments were designed to investigate how character frequency and the structure of Chinese compound word affected the word superiority effect for low proficiency Korean-Chinese learners. 21 Korean-Chinese learners (12 male) and 36 Korean-Chinese learners (17 male) were enrolled in Experiment 1 and 2, respectively. The participants were defined as low proficiency CFL leaners, because they had passed the fourth level (the intermediate level with a vocabulary of 1200 words) of the Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) but not the sixth (the highest level with a knowledge of 5000 words). The HSK is a standardized test of Chinese language proficiency for non-native speakers that distinguishes six levels of proficiency. Experiment 1 employed the classic Reicher-Wheeler forced choice decision paradigm. A two-character word (a real word or a non-word) was presented followed by two probe characters, participants were asked to select the probe character that had been in the word. The duration time of the word was determined by a self-adaptive procedure. The duration time range was from 40ms to 60 ms. By comparing character recognition accuracy in real words and non-words, we assessed the word superiority effect. By comparing the size of the word superiority effect for high and low frequency characters, we assessed the dependence of the word superiority effect on character frequency. In Experiment 2, character recognition accuracy of coordinative and subordinative words were compared to investigate the dependence of the word superiority on word structure. The paradigm of Experiment 2 was similar to Experiment 1 except that the duration of the word was restricted to 60 ms based on the average time of Experiment 1 and the task was changed to make a decision that the probe character was the initial or final character of the preceding word. There were significant differences of character recognition accuracy between the real word and non-word conditions. Character recognition accuracy in the real word condition was significantly higher than the non-word condition. The results verified there was a word superiority effect in Chinese word recognition for low proficiency Korean-Chinese learners. Consistent with studies of Thai and Indonesian Chinese learners, the word superiority effect was not affected by character frequency. Experiment 2 found that there were significant differences on character recognition accuracy among coordinative word condition, subordinative word condition and non-word condition. Post-hoc analysis showed that there was a strong word superiority effect in the subordinative word condition while no word superiority effect was found in the coordinative word condition. The word superiority effect in Chinese word recognition indicated that character in a word was easily to be recognized for low proficiency Korean-Chinese learners. In addition, the word superiority effect did not depend on character frequency. Low proficiency Korean-Chinese learners showed a strong word superiority effect for both low frequency and high frequency characters. Word structure affected word superiority effect. Word superiority effect was only found in subordinative word recognition.

Key words:  word superiority effect, character frequency, coordinative word, subordinative word, Korean-Chinese learners

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