Character Literacy Development
in Mandarin Immersion

Sorry–This institute has been cancelled for 2017.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Haomin Zhang and Tara Fortune

Becoming literate in Chinese is a complex and time-intensive process. Promoting high levels of literacy among immersion learners is arguably one of the Chinese immersion teacher's greatest challenges.

During this institute, participants will explore how alphabetic and character literacy skills are similar and different; review research on the cognitive and linguistic factors that facilitate Chinese character, word, and literacy development; and identify instructional practices that strengthen the requisite sub-skills in meaningful contexts and move learners towards more fluent character processing and text comprehension.

Program Schedule (9am-4pm)

Day 1
  • Character vs. Alphabetic Literacy
  • Universal Literacy Development
  • Chinese L1/L2 Reading Development
Day 2
  • Cognitive and Linguistic Factors
  • Orthographic Awareness
  • Morphological Awareness
Day 3
  • Choosing Characters to Teach
  • Recognition or Production
  • Character Teaching Strategies
Day 4
  • More Character Teaching Strategies
  • Strategic Reading in Chinese
Day 5
  • Biliteracy Research Project
  • Tips for Struggling Readers
  • Balanced Character Literacy

After this institute, you will be able to:

  • Explain how alphabetic and character literacy skills are similar and different;

  • Recognize the cognitive and
    linguistic factors that facilitate Chinese character, word and literacy development;

  • Strengthen students' awareness of Chinese-specific orthography and morphology;

  • Apply a "5-step" approach to
    developing character/word knowledge;

  • Design lessons and make use of instructional practices that promote fluent character processing and reading for meaning; and

  • Implement a few techniques to support struggling readers.


Tara Fortune, Ph.D., is the Immersion Program director at CARLA and will serve as the lead instructor and institute facilitator. She devotes most of her professional time to the preparation and continuing education of immersion educators throughout the United States and abroad. She oversees research initiatives in immersion that have recently included a focus on struggling immersion learners and assessing immersion language development.

Haomin Zhang, Ph.D., is a recent graduate from the Second Language Acquisition Program at Carnegie Mellon University. His research centers on bilingualism and biliteracy, and Chinese reading development.

Veteran immersion teachers and administrators will share their specific expertise at the institute.

Target Audience
: K–8 Mandarin immersion teachers, program coordinators, and administrators

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Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)
140 University International Center • 331 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414 | Contact CARLA