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Application of Cognitive Strategies to Chinese Noun Classifier E-learning (short paper)

Wei Ni, Helena Hong Gao and Shixiao Ouyang

Eighth International Conference on Computational Semantics (IWCS-8 2009)
Tilburg University, Netherlands, January 7-9, 2009


This paper focuses on the application of cognitive strategies to Chinese noun classifier acquisition. Chinese noun classifiers are regarded as one of the most difficult elements in the learning of Chinese. Studies have compared different learning patterns of Chinese-Swedish bilingual children and Swedish second language learners in their noun classifier acquisition. The bilingual children took a case-by-case bottom-up approach in understanding the cognitive association between the noun referent and the noun classifier. In contrast, the second language learners failed to comprehend the complex cognition-based semantic meanings embedded in the noun classifiers, by taking a top-down approach. In the end, the bilingual children scored a significantly higher noun classifier production than the second language learners. It indicates that applying cognitive strategies is the key in effective understanding of classifiers. In light of this, we aim to develop an e-learning tool for learners to acquire noun classifiers in a bottom-up pattern. The e-learning tool is based on a database with classes of nouns and classifiers that are stored in individual records. The records are not organized according to the lexical meanings of the words. Instead, their classification scheme is built from the noun referentsí salient external or functional features. The objective of this design is to use such features to set up a classifier network of its associations with all possible nouns. A computer-based model with such a design is expected to show language learners of Chinese the cognitive mapping of human linguistic classification and at the same time try by themselves its automatic function of noun and classifier association.

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