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I'm looking for data that would let me estimate how much written language young Chinese at different ages know, in terms of number of characters they can read/write.

Examples of materials that would help answer this question:

  • lists of characters that Chinese pupils learn at different grades at school (ideally official lists, if there are any)
  • statistics of how many new characters they learn at each grade
  • information about how many hours at every grade are dedicated exclusively to learning characters

I'm interested in data from China and from other Chinese-speaking countries.

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this question appears to be off topic because it's asking about China's school system and not about the Chinese language –  50-3 Feb 25 at 22:44
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I rewrote the question to emphasise that my focus is the Chinese language (more specifically, the amount of written language known by native Chinese speakers at different ages), not the school system. –  michau Feb 25 at 23:28
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Hmm I think you could possibly check out the HSK and do the tests yourself and count the characters in each test. It's fairly easy to find data on which school years correspond to which tests. Though I'm not sure if HSK is mainly used by China or if it's more widespread than that. –  Ming Feb 26 at 0:24
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You may find this question useful, there is a database that contains the HK grade level of characters: chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/5025/… –  congusbongus Feb 26 at 0:39
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@Ming HSK is a test of Chinese as a foreign language. I need information about character knowledge among those who speak it as a first language. –  michau Feb 26 at 9:13

3 Answers 3

Children usually go to grade 1 at the age of 6 or 7 in China.

According to "全日制义务教育语文课程标准", the character number that children should learn is:

Grade 1 to Grade 2: can read 1600 characters, and write 800 characters;

Grade 3 to Grade 4: can read 2500 characters, and write 2000 characters;

Grade 5 to Grade 6: can read 3000 characters, and write 2500 characters;

Grade 7 to Grade 9: can read 3500 characters, and write 3000 characters.

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Children go to grade 1 at the age of 7 and when they graduated from the primary school (grade 6), they should know at least 2500 characters, and the target made by the China Ministry of Education is as follows:

  1. grade 1~2: learn 1600 characters
  2. grade 3~6: learn 900 characters

about your 3rd question, I think it should be the time for Chinese lessons, there should be at least one Chinese lesson a day, and each lesson takes 40 minutes. you can calculate it.

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That's useful information! Do you mean that at all grades from 1 to 6, there are approximately 5 lessons of Chinese classes per week? It's still a bit unclear. At which grade the pupils know more or less enough to read, say, an article in a newspaper? –  michau Feb 26 at 9:25
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From my education experience, there are approximately 5 lessons per week (at least, some times teachers will add extra lessons for some reasons, for example, holidays are coming, but in general, you can think 5 lessons/week). and the question about which grade the pupils can read newspaper, I think grade 3 may be a proper answer, since I have a nephew who is at grade 3, and he has no problem in reading newspapers, watching TV programs, surfing internet and playing games, children are getting smarter there years, so maybe in the future even younger pupils can read. –  j5shi Feb 28 at 0:19

Malaysia Chinese Essay Test :

primary school , age 7 - 12 = >120 Character; secondary 13 - 15 = >220; secondary 16 - 17 = 400 - 600; high/STPM 18 ~ 20 = >1000.

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That's the minimum BTW, for a good level essay you have higher limits. –  user3992 Feb 27 at 9:27
    
Are you sure this is correct? The numbers are much lower than in other answers. And it's hard to believe that children in primary school are only required to learn 120 characters, and the minimal requirement after high school is only 1000 characters. Even the minimal literacy threshold for Chinese peasants, which is lower than for people in the cities, is 1500 characters. –  michau Feb 27 at 15:13
    
I think this answer means the number of characters required in an essay, not the number of characters a person knows. And it's the minimum, typical Secondary 16-17 can write over 2000 + Word essay easily. –  user3992 Mar 3 at 8:44

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