Volume 57, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2451-828x
  • E-ISSN: 2451-8298
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Should the writing construct be assessed through handwriting or keyboarding? As the only major language entirely without a syllabary or alphabet, the Chinese writing system is unique among modern languages, thus the question of writing proficiency is complicated by character recall. Most of the testing research comparing text entry methods has been conducted in English and has found that keyboarding and handwriting can be used interchangeably. This paper reports the outcome of a study comparing the results of handwritten and typed versions of the Chinese ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT). L2 Chinese students ( = 25) with Intermediate to Superior speaking skills were randomly divided into two groups and took both WPT versions in a counterbalanced design. Keyboarding resulted in significantly higher test scores [repeated measures ANOVA (1, 23) = 62.7,  < .001, effect size partial eta squared = .73]. Keyboarding was on average 1.69 ACTFL sublevels higher than handwriting. Finally, this paper will discuss the writing construct in Chinese along with pedagogical implications around curricular decisions on teaching and assessing handwriting vs. keyboarding.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. ACTFL
    ACTFL (n.d.-b). Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) Description, Alexandria, VA. Retrieved10/19/2021 from https://www.actfl.org/assessment-research-and-development/actfl-assessments/actfl-postsecondary-assessments/writing-proficiency-test
  2. Allen, J. R.
    (2008) Why Learning to Write Chinese is a Waste of Time: A Modest Proposal. Foreign Language Annals, 41(2), 14. 10.1111/j.1944‑9720.2008.tb03291.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1944-9720.2008.tb03291.x [Google Scholar]
  3. Almog, G.
    (2018) Getting out of Hand? Examining the discourse of ‘character amnesia’. Modern Asian Studies, 53(2), 27. Retrieved fromhttps://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/modern-asian-studies/article/abs/getting-out-of-hand-examining-the-discourse-of-character-amnesia/5654E4AF5357C4D8AF53E1715FE1B12C
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Barkaoui, K.
    (2014) Examining the impact of L2 proficiency and keyboarding vs kills on scores on TOEFL-iBT writing tasks. Language Testing, 31(2), 241–259. 10.1177/0265532213509810
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532213509810 [Google Scholar]
  5. Berninger, V. W.
    (2000) Development of language by hand and its connections with language by ear, mouth, and eye. Topics in Language Disorders. 10.1097/00011363‑200020040‑00007
    https://doi.org/10.1097/00011363-200020040-00007 [Google Scholar]
  6. Blackhust, A.
    (2005) Listening, reading and writing on computer-based and paper-based versions of IELTS. Research Notes, 211, 14–17.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Cameron, D.
    (1995) Verbal hygiene. London; New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Chin, T.
    (1973) Is it necessary to require writing in learning characters?Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association, 8(3), 3.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Du, Y. 杜洋洋, & Zhang, W. 杜洋洋
    (2013) ‘Tibiwangzi’ cheng tongbing hanzi shuxie weiji gai ruhe pojie’ [‘提笔忘字’成通病 汉字书写危机该如何破解’]. Shenghuo jiaoyu生活教育, 11(11), 5–8.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Feng, L., Lindner, A., Ji, X. R.
    The roles of handwriting and keyboarding in writing: a meta-analytic review. Read Writ321, 33–63 (2019) 10.1007/s11145‑017‑9749‑x
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-017-9749-x [Google Scholar]
  11. Gottlieb, N.
    (2012) Language policy in Japan: the challenge of change. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Guan, C. Q., Perfetti, C. A., & Meng, W.
    (2015) Writing Qualy predicts Chinese learning. Reading and Writing: an interdisciplinary journal281, 32.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Kang, H.
    (2011) Computer-based Writing and Paper-based Writing: A Study of Beginning-level and Intermediate-level Chinese Learners’ Writing. (Ph.D. Dissertation). Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
  14. Ke, C.
    (1996) An Empirical Study on the Relationship between Chinese Character Recognition and Production. Modern Language Journal, 80(3), 8. 10.1111/j.1540‑4781.1996.tb01615.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.1996.tb01615.x [Google Scholar]
  15. Kelly, J., Renn, J., & Norton, J.
    (2018) Addressing consequences and validity during test design and development. Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics, 185–2503. 10.2307/j.ctvvngrq.14
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvvngrq.14 [Google Scholar]
  16. Lee, J.
    (2001, February1 2001) In China, Computer Use Erodes Traditional Handwriting, Stirring a Cultural Debate. New York Times.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Ling, Z. V.
    (2007) Studies on L2 Acquistion of the Chinese Script Published in America. InA. Gruder, X. Jiang, & Y. Wan (Eds.), 汉字的认知与教学––西方学习者汉字认知国际研讨会论文集The Cognition, Learning and Teaching of Chinese Characters (pp.51–85). Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture University University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Mair, V.
    (2010) Character Amnesia. Retrieved fromhttps://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2473
  19. Mickel, S.
    (1980) Teaching the Chinese writing system. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association, 15(1), 7.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Mislevy, R. J., Almond, R. G., & Lukas, J. F.
    (2004) A Brief Introduction to Evidence-Centered Design. CSE Report 632. US Department of Education. 10.1037/e646212011‑001
    https://doi.org/10.1037/e646212011-001 [Google Scholar]
  21. Shapiro, F. R.
    (2006) The Yale Book of Quotations. Yale University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Qi, Z., & Lu, Z.
    (2014) The writing of Chinese characters by CFL learners: Can writing on Facebook and using machine translation help?Journal of the European Confederation of Language Centres in Higher Education, 4(2), 26.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Santangelo, T., & Graham, S.
    (2015) A comprehensive meta-analysis of handwriting instruction. Educational Psychology Review, 271, 1–41. 10.1007/s10648‑015‑9335‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-015-9335-1 [Google Scholar]
  24. Surface, E. A., & Dierdorff, E. C.
    (2004) Preliminary reliability and validity findings for the ACTFL writing proficiency test. SWA Technical Report 2004-C04-R01.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Tan, T. H., Xu, M., Chang, C. Q., & Siok, W. T.
    (2013) China’s language input system in the digital age affects children’s reading development. PNAS, 110(3), 4. Retrieved fromhttps://www.pnas.org/content/110/3/1119. 10.1073/pnas.1213586110
    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1213586110 [Google Scholar]
  26. Walker, G.
    (1984) Literacy and reading in a Chinese language program. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association, 19(1), 67–84.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Wang, J.
    (2012) Illiteracy in the digital age [E 时代新文盲]. Lectures on society [社会讲义] , pp.12–13.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Weir, C. J., Sullivan, B., & Jin, Y.
    (2007) Does the computer make a difference? The reaction of candidates to a computer-based versus a traditional hand-written form of the IELTS writing component: Effects and impact. IELTS Research Report, 71, 311–347.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Wolfe, E. W., & Manalo, J. R.
    (2005) An Investigation of the Impact of Composition Medium on the Quality of TOEFL Writing Scores. Retrieved fromPrinceton, New Jersey,:
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Xu, C.
    (2010) ‘Tibiwangzi‘ wenhua de jinbu haishi daotui ‘提笔忘字’文化的进步还是倒步. Shenzhou, 91, 29–31.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Xu, P., & Jen, T.
    (2005) “Penless” Chinese Language Learning: A Computer-Assisted Approach. Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association, 40(2), 25–42.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Yan, C., McBride-Chang, C., Wagner, R. K., Zhang, J., Wong, A., & Shu, H.
    (2012) Writing quality in Chinese children: Speed and fluency matter. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 251, 1499–1521. 10.1007/s11145‑011‑9330‑y
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-011-9330-y [Google Scholar]
  33. Yan, W.
    (1957) Yige waihang de yijian一个外行的意见. Wenzi gaige文字改革, 81, 10–11.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Zhu, Y., Shum, S.-K. M., Tse, S.-K. B., & Liu, J. J.
    (2016) Word-processor or pencil-and-paper? A comparison of students’ writing in Chinese as a foreign language. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(3), 21. 10.1080/09588221.2014.1000932
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2014.1000932 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error