From my drunk thread post: Quote - CarbonCopy: I have no idea if this belongs here, but this is a great article and the comments are so awesome. http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2011/07/why_we_are_terrible_at_math_an.html#comments Can you get the answer? Do you agree that Americans are awful at reading and math? If anyone can pick out who I am in the comments I will give you $20*. /quote This is a fairly interesting topic but I want to start out that as an English speaking human being, I've already handicapped myself. English is actually a fairly difficult language to learn math with - it's clumsy. I'm not saying it's isn't a strong language but an incredibly difficult one to start out with. It all starts out with basics. Read these numbers out loud 4, 8, 5, 3, 9, 7, 6. Without looking at them, spend the next twenty seconds memorizing these numbers and write them down. If you're English, you have a 50/50 chance of remembering the entire string. If you're Chinese, you're almost certain to get it right. We human beings have memory loops that only last for about two seconds; within that two seconds, you can easily memorize whatever you want. Chinese language allows them to memorize these numbers because they can fit those seven numbers within the two second memory loop. Now, I'm pulling some text off of Malcolm Gladwells Outliers and out of Stanislas Dehaene's book The Number Sense. Dehaene Writes: Chinese number words are remarkably brief. Most of them can be uttered in less than one-quarter of a second (for instance, 4 is "si" and 7 is "qi"). Their English equivalents are - "four", "seven" - are longer: pronouncing them takes about one-third of a second. The memory gap between English and Chinese apparently is entirely due to this difference in length. In languages as diverse as Welsh, Arabic, Chinese, English and Hebrew, there is a reproducible correlation between the time required to pronounce numbers in a given language and the memory span of it's speakers. In this domain, the prize for efficacy goes to te Cantonese dialect of Chinese, whose brevity grants residents of Hong Kong a rocketing memory span of about ten digits. For example, we say fourteen, sixteen, seventeen and nineteen; but one could logically expect us to say oneteen, twoteen or fiveteen but we do not. Past twenty, we start changing convention to decade-number; ie: twenty two. Each number in our language has a different form, our numbering system is highly irregular. The Chinese has a very logical numbering system. Eleven is ten-one (obviously not the actual language but we will represent the Chinese numbering system this way), twelve is ten-two and Twenty-four is two-tens-four, ect. By learning how to count quicker, using a logical numbering pattern they're learning the numbering system faster than we can. There is also another bonus; if you ask an English seven-year old to add 37 + 22, they have to convert the words into numbers first. 2 plus 7 is 9; 30 and 20 is 50; which makes 59. Ask an Asian child to add three-tens-seven and two-tens-two, and then the necessary equation is right there, embedded in the sentence: five-tens-nine. There is a reason why kids become disenchanted with math at an early age; conceptually, it's a very difficult system to learn in English because of how clumsy our mathematical system truly is. Asian kids can learn to hold more numbers in their heads because it's quite simple and logical, which leads them to less frustration and will likely lead them to enjoying math more - they have a built in advantage to their system. Focus: Discuss. Alt-focus: Did you, like Omegaham, teach yourself a different, more simple numbering system? Figured out the English language by making your own at three? What did you figure out before the system beat it out of you? Edit: I don't know why but it won't let me post with quotes. I keep getting errors.