Efficient Learning Strategy of Chinese Characters Based on Network Approach

Xiaoyong Yan, Ying Fan, Zengru Di, Shlomo Havlin, Jinshan Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We develop an efficient learning strategy of Chinese characters based on the network of the hierarchical structural relations between Chinese characters. A more efficient strategy is that of learning the same number of useful Chinese characters in less effort or time. We construct a node-weighted network of Chinese characters, where character usage frequencies are used as node weights. Using this hierarchical node-weighted network, we propose a new learning method, the distributed node weight (DNW) strategy, which is based on a new measure of nodes' importance that considers both the weight of the nodes and its location in the network hierarchical structure. Chinese character learning strategies, particularly their learning order, are analyzed as dynamical processes over the network. We compare the efficiency of three theoretical learning methods and two commonly used methods from mainstream Chinese textbooks, one for Chinese elementary school students and the other for students learning Chinese as a second language. We find that the DNW method significantly outperforms the others, implying that the efficiency of current learning methods of major textbooks can be greatly improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere69745
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - 21 Aug 2013


FundersFunder number
National Natural Science Foundation of China61174150, 60974084


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