ABSTRACT This study investigated the effects of language background on the success in the learning of Chinese characters by first-year college learners of Chinese. An instrument consisting of a character recognition task and a production task was employed. Eighty-five bilingual speakers of English and Chinese and 60 “non-heritage” (native English-speaking) learners from seven institutions participated in this study. There were two major findings: (a) Language background was not a variable influencing either group's performance on Chinese character recognition and production; and (b) Although there were statistically significant differences for recognition and production in terms of sites, no main effects were found for the interaction between site and language background on character recognition and production. Discussions include pedagogical implications of the findings in this study.