Malaysian Non-native Chinese Students' Challenges and Learning Strategies in Chinese Characters Learning

  • Hui Wen Chua Faculty of Language Studies and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, MALAYSIA
  • Hui Ling Lee Faculty of Language Studies and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, MALAYSIA
  • Suhaida Omar Faculty of Language Studies and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, MALAYSIA
  • Mahama Tohleheng Faculty of Language Studies and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, MALAYSIA
  • Siao Mei Chin Faculty of Language Studies and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Kota Bharu, Kelantan, MALAYSIA
Keywords: Chinese characters learning, Non-native Chinese learners, challenges, learning strategy


This study investigates the challenges faced by non-native Chinese learners in learning Chinese characters and their learning strategies. This research applied quantitative research, where the questionnaire was delivered at the end of the semester to 370 students of Mandarin level two, selected through convenience sampling. The descriptive analysis showed that most of the students stated that being literate in Chinese characters and learning many Chinese characters was the most challenging act while corresponding between characters and their pronunciations was the least challenging. Next, the students listed repetitively memorising Chinese characters as the preferred learning strategy, followed by imitating each stroke of a Chinese character and picturing what Chinese characters look like in their minds. The finding of this study contradicts other research studies since the students in this study did not perceive the "lack of correspondence between characters and their pronunciation in Chinese character learning" as the main challenge since they only learned 105 Chinese characters for two semesters. Nonetheless, this study also supports similar research on learning strategies in that students have difficulty learning Chinese characters as there are too many characters, too many pronunciations, and too many strokes. Hence, they repeatedly imitate and memorise the characters as learning strategies. Thus, memory strategies and graphic strategies are the main learning strategies to help learners cope with learning Chinese characters. For future study, it is recommended to find out whether there is any correlation between the challenges for non-native Chinese learners and the learning strategies they apply, which will give teachers an idea of how to improve their teaching to support learners’ learning strategies to boost their Chinese character learning.


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How to Cite
Chua, H. W., Lee, H. L., Omar, S., Tohleheng, M., & Chin, S. M. (2022). Malaysian Non-native Chinese Students’ Challenges and Learning Strategies in Chinese Characters Learning. EDUCATUM Journal of Social Sciences, 8(1), 67-82.