Learning Chinese Mandarin characters in an English-speaking country: The development of a child’s symbolic mind

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Symbolic development, Symbolic representation, Early childhood, Chinese Mandarin characters, Relational developmental systems metatheory, Sociocultural theory


This qualitative research explores the development of the symbolic mind in children through learning Chinese Mandarin characters. Navigated through the lens of relational developmental system metatheory and guided by Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, findings present the analysis of the developmental processes in children’s recognition of symbols and use of known symbols to make and share meaning. This study also offers an explanation of the effect of changes in the sociocultural environment on children's symbolic development. Further, cultural differences toward symbolic representation are discussed with the recommendation of focusing on recognition followed by writing when learning Chinese Mandarin characters.


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How to Cite

Wang, W., & Black Delfin, A. (2021). Learning Chinese Mandarin characters in an English-speaking country: The development of a child’s symbolic mind. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 2(2), 87–105. https://doi.org/10.37291/2717638X.20212276