Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



Published in The Nebraska Educator 3 (2016). doi:10.13014/K2X63JT1


Copyright © 2016 The University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Chinese character Learning has been identified as one of the most challenging issues for English-speaking learners of Chinese due to the distinctions between the Chinese writing system and alphabetic languages in terms of orthography, phonology and semantics. In order to support Western students in overcoming the challenges associated with Chinese character learning a contextualized, socio-cultural approach to character learning was designed. Aimed at novice learners of Chinese, this design draws on social constructivism and Universal Design for Learning--contextualizing the learning experience and affording students to work on acquiring characters via several distinct avenues. The project-based inquiry design supports the exploration of Chinese character learning through six research-based learning tools and strategies. These tools include: educational technologies designed specifically for learning Chinese characters, pinyin & typing, making connections between different levels of linguistic components, stroke animation, handwriting, radical positioning, and character gamification. This learning experience design integrates multiple technology tools, awareness of culture, hands-on activities, and interactive multimodal web technologies that draw on constructivist theories and approaches to language acquisition.