Teaching Chinese characters to students in grades 1 to 3 through emergency remote instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic

Tien Ping Hsiang, Steve Graham, Zhisheng Wang, Chuang Wang, Gustaf B. Skar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The current study examined how Chinese characters were taught by primary grade teachers in Macao during online instruction resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., emergency remote instruction). A random sample of 313 first to third grade teachers in public and private schools were surveyed about their instructional practices. Most teachers surveyed (72%) reported they taught a lesson about Chinese characters once every 3–4 weeks during emergency remote instruction, and 83% and 81% of teachers indicated they assigned homework for writing and reading characters, respectively, at the same rate. On average, they reportedly spent 97 min per week teaching students to write, read, and understand the meaning of new characters, devoting equal time to each of these skills. They also indicated students practiced writing and reading characters in class for 40 min per week. They further noted students were expected to spend 35 min a day practicing writing and reading characters for homework. While teachers reportedly used a variety of instructional practices for teaching characters (M = 30.38), the typical teacher applied less than one-half (N = 64) of practices assessed. Teachers reported use of asynchronous (online learning activities which can be completed at other times) and synchronous (real-time videos and audio/text) teaching methods and perceptions of adequacy of technical support predicted reported teaching practices. The findings from this study raise questions about the teaching of Chinese characters in Macao during emergency remote instruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1975-2014
Number of pages40
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Chinese characters
  • Handwriting
  • Reading
  • Word meaning
  • Writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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