THE CHINESE INPUT CHALLENGES FOR CHINESE AS SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNERS IN COMPUTER-MEDIATED WRITING: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY

 

ABSTRACT

This paper reports an exploratory study on Singapore secondary and primary school studentsí perceptions and behaviors on using a variety of Chinese input methods for Chinese composition writing. Significant behavioral patterns were uncovered and mapped into a cognitive process, which are potentially critical to the training of students in inputting Chinese via computers. Due to the cognitive complexity of Chinese computer input, there seemed to be a misalignment between the perceived effectiveness of these input methods and their actual benefits. They will only be effective if the composition writers possess appropriate language abilities and technical skills. In addition, as secondary school composition writers had higher level linguistic and technical skills, for example, the ability to guess the correct pinyin (a Romanized phonetic scheme that is required for Chinese text input) based on experience, they were more likely to view the input system favorably than primary school students. This has implications in how to prepare primary school students for information and technology mediated composition writing in Singapore. Pinyin and technical skills should be introduced as early as possible for them to appreciate the benefits of computer-mediated Chinese text input and subsequently, composition writing.