To support Chinese word and character learning, one simple type of oral language learning is lexical compounding. Lexical compounding is important because putting morphemes together in a structure helps us to read Chinese better. In addition, it is strongly related to vocabulary development. The Chinese game called “word chain game” is one good example of how to do this. In this game, the last morpheme of the word becomes the first morpheme of the next word. (English: campfire--firewall—wallflower—flowerpot—pothole). Here are two Chinese chains:
Mandarin Pinyin: zhōng wén - wén huà - huà xué - xué xí - xí xìng - xìng míng - míng bai - bái sè
Cantonese Pinyin : zung1man4 - man4faa3 - faa3hok6 - hok6zaap6 -
zaap6sing3 - sing3ming4 -ming4baak6 - baak6sik1
Mandarin Pinyin: gǎi biàn - biàn dòng - dòng zuò - zuò pǐn - pǐn cháng- cháng shì - shì tí - tí mù
Cantonese Pinyin: goi2bin3 - bin3dung6 -dung6zok3 - zok3ban2 -
ban2soeng4 - soeng4si3 -si3tai4 - tai4muk6
Another way to emphasize lexical compounding is to ask children or adult learners to make up words using morphemes. For example, a boot for an ant would be called an antboot (not a bootant). Here are a few questions we have asked children ages 5-10 tapping this skill:
bracelets on wrists
what would we call bracelets we wear on our ankles?
the day we celebrate the establishment of a school
what would we call the day we celebrate the establishment of a family?
soup made out of beans
What would we call soup made out of eggs?
frogs with bunny ears
What would we call frogs with duck beaks?
bananas with a sweet smell
What would we call bananas with a rotten smell?
oil made out of cows’ milk
what would we call oil made out of goats’ milk?
boots we wear in the rain
what would we call boots we wear in the snow?