Author Topic: teaching the English alphabet to students with an logographic or syllabic L1s  (Read 1843 times)

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Offline ryanfoster1

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Hey guys, I was wondering if you had any thoughts or experiences about the difficulties of teaching the English writing system  to speakers whose first language doesn't have an alphabet.  Syllabic langauges like Arabic, or especially logographic languages like Chinese or Japanese seem like they would produce speakers who are used to reading and writing in a way that's different than English.  Is it difficult to teach students the process of putting together symbols that represent individual phonemes?  Is there any difference between the teaching processes used on students with a logographic L1 vs an alphabetic one like Spanish?  I would imagine that there is a different psycholinguistic process involved in reading and writing alphabets vs logograms, since when writing an alphabetic language, you first have to access what you know about how letters combine to form words, whereas in a logographic language, you just need to mentally access the symbol for the word itself.  I also wonder if this is more of a factor in the early stages of English acquisition, since, for native speakers at least, eventually you reach a level of knowledge of English words that you don't need to go through the bottom up processing of combining letters to make words, as you just remember what a word looks like as a whole.  Would this make it more difficult for L2 learners from a logographic background, in that they would have to mechanically combine the letters in the words for a long time before they get enough exposure for it to be automatic, or would they be at an advantage, since in their L1 they are used to accessing a single symbol rather than a combination of symbols when remembering a word.  Maybe this would make it more predisposed to memorizing the entire word rather than having to build words from the letter level up.  Anyway these are just some musings on this particular problem.  Please let me know you're perspective or experience about this a a potential factor in teaching.