A Dance of Letters: How East Asian Writing Systems Work

This is a six-contact-hour mini-course spread over two Saturday afternoons (May 14 and 21) that examines the writing systems used by speakers of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. First, we will study how Chinese characters express both meanings and sounds. Next, the course will explore how Korea’s writing system combines Chinese characters with an alphabet called hangeul that shows the physical mouth positions for different sounds. Finally, we will look at how Japanese uses Chinese characters together with two phonetic syllabaries to transmit various kinds of information about Japanese words. The mini-course will include discussions and exercises regarding how elements of these systems can be taught in various K-12 classrooms, including classes focused on history, culture, geography, and/or science. Participants will receive a set of calligraphy materials in advance of the program. A complementary book will be sent to participants who attend both sessions.

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