Gab’s amazing achievement

My niece Gab’ (age 9 in 2009) is a fourth grader in Kentucky. She came to stay with her father in California for the Christmas holiday (from December 24, 2008 to January 3, 2009). During these eleven days, she studied Chinese word roots about one hour a day. The following is her study log.

  1. December 26, 2008, 13 word roots, studying time — 30 minutes.
  2. December 27, 28 word roots, studying time — one hour.
  3. December 28, 39 word roots, studying time — one hour.
  4. December 29, 80 word roots, studying time — 90 minutes.
  5. December 30, no study.
  6. December 31, 60 word roots, studying time — one hour.
  7. January 1, 2009, 30 sound modules, studying time — one hour.
  8. January 2, 30 sound modules, studying time — one hour.
  9. January 3, review and test, time — 90 minutes.

After only 8.5 hours of study, she passed a word-writing test (copying 30 words). Her test sheet is attached below. They are difficult words even for a university student who finished 100 hours of Chinese course in an American university (see note below). In terms of our syllabus, the first segment is to learn the Chinese word form (in 30 hours, students should be able to duplicate any Chinese character with handwriting after glancing it for 10 seconds). As she only completed 1/4 of the segment one program, her test was copying the words, not dictating them. Yet, she only missed one stroke for two words . In fact, she should, now, be able to duplicate any word which has 10 strokes or less after glancing it for 10 seconds.



Note: There is a major difference between writing and drawing Chinese characters although they are ideographs. For writing, Chinese characters must be written in some kind of stroke sequence while drawing can often start from any part of the graph. For drawing those 30 test words correctly and quickly, it will be a major task even for a professor of physics. Those 30 test words are listed below. If you do not know how to write Chinese words, you can try to copy them yourself and make a comparison with Gab’s work. There is an easier task. Can you find out which two words are missing one stroke in Gab’s work? Furthermore, she finished the test in 20 minutes while her controlling of spacing and word roots proportion was needing more practices


Writing and drawing Chinese characters

Gab’s personal and contact information is available at: Department of Education of Kentucky


Capital Plaza Tower
500 Mero Street
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601


Anyone who is interested in knowing more about this amazing story (especially in terms of academic analysis), please contact the Department of Education of Kentucky.