Dual Coding Theory and Chinese: Recall of Concrete and Abstract Sentences in Chinese-English Bilinguals
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Theories of reading have seldom been examined across orthographies. In the present study, Dual Coding Theory (DCT), a general theory of cognition applied to literacy, was applied to Chinese sentences to investigate the effects of language concreteness and abstractness on immediate recall. Forty Chinese-English bilinguals read and recalled five concrete sentences and five matched abstract sentences. Of the ten sentences, five were English, and five were Chinese. Due to the characteristics of Chinese orthography, Chinese script may have a direct and more efficient access to meaning; hence, it is possible that concrete sentences in Chinese would not have the typical advantage over abstract sentences in recall found in other languages. However, the results showed that concrete Chinese sentences were recalled better than abstract Chinese sentences. A 2 (languages: Chinese vs. English) x 2 (sentence concreteness: concrete vs. abstract) analysis of variance with proportion of recall as the dependent variable showed that significant main effects were found for languages, F (1, 76) =11.68, p = .001, n2 = .13, and for concreteness, F (1, 76) = 38.12, p < .001, n2 = 33. That is, Chinese was overall recalled significantly better than English, and concrete sentences were overall recalled significantly better than abstract sentences. There was no significant interaction. Concrete Chinese sentences were recalled 1.32 times as much as abstract Chinese sentences, thus confirming the concreteness effects in Chinese. The results of the study are consistent with those of previous studies on DCT in alphabetic languages, and they also provide evidence of concreteness effects across orthographies.
Chen, Tsuei-Fen (2010). Dual Coding Theory and Chinese: Recall of Concrete and Abstract Sentences in Chinese-English Bilinguals. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from