A think-aloud method of investigating translanguaging strategies in learning Chinese characters

Qi Zhang, Xu Lin, Caitríona Osborne

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Asian scripts that are significantly different from Roman-derived alphabets usually impose difficulties in learning. Translanguaging has therefore been explored as a pedagogical tool for the language classroom, including Chinese. While learning Chinese characters is thought to be one of the main challenges for students learning Chinese as a foreign language (CFL), there seems to be a paucity of up-to-date research into the strategies that adult students use to learn this logographic script. Situated in the translanguaging framework, this study employs the think-aloud method to investigate strategies utilised by a group of CFL beginner adult learners when learning characters. Drawing on the results of five think-aloud exercises with CFL learners over five weeks, as well as follow-up tests of their long-term memory of Chinese characters, this study shows that a variety of translanguaging strategies were utilised during the process of learning Chinese characters, and that overall three types of translanguaging strategies were observed: a) embodiment, b) translanguaging resemblance, and c) hybrid. The proposed typology of translanguaging strategies contributes to the further application of translanguaging as a methodology. It also sheds light on future learning strategy research across different linguistic systems.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Linguistics Review
Early online date31 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Oct 2022


  • Chinese character
  • learning strategies
  • trans-semiotising
  • translanguaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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