Brain Reads Chinese as Images
Apart from being tonal, Chinese language is also a pictorial language with written symbols. The written Chinese is a system of pictographs, each originally representing an object or a concept. The brain processes the written Chinese characters as images, which brings some significant advantages to those who read and write Chinese.
In an article, Cognitive Power of Chinese Characters and Their Influence on Ancient Chinese Science and Technology, Ding Xinghua described that “a large part of the inventory of Chinese characters was created by analogy to physical or mental existence. In recognizing the characters, their users visualize the meaning without resorting to the process (intermediate phonological decoding) used in recognizing alphabetical writing. This visualizing has become so ingrained that … trains Chinese people to think analogically.” But more profoundly, learning Chinese strengthens the photographic imaging (visualization) ability of the right brain.
According to an Australian research paper on how Chinese character learning will enhance your mathematical ability, the mathematical concepts are exposed to the young Chinese child in greater depth and clarity than in the English language, because these concepts are embedded in their language at a very early stage in the language acquisition process. In Chinese writing system, each Chinese character is made up of strokes, and the strokes are counted as they are written, thus, the young child from this stage is learning basic mathematical concepts in the actual learning process. These skills include grouping, ordering, similarities, differences, addition and subtraction. A Northeastern University study, led by Professor Chieh Li, also revealed the critical link between writing in characters and strong math skills. As Li explained, learning to write in Chinese, with its numerous strokes and shapes, teaches a firm understanding of spatial relationships. That in turn enhances math skills, especially geometry.
Many early childhood education experts, such as Dr. Glenn Doman, encourage parents to teach their young children to read pictorial Chinese characters, as each Chinese character looks like an image to the young children, and thus can enhance their imaginative creativity, stimulate and fine-tune their right brain development.