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Are Native English Speakers at a Natural Learning Disadvantage?

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Icyblackflame

Registered Member
Well, to satisy everyone, I've decided to take out the first few sentences because the point was not getting across. I don't know how to start this now, and I don't feel like re-writting this, so...let's just connect this with "THE ASIAN NUMBER SYSTEM IS GENERALLY COMPLICATED."
They have the obvious "one, two threee, four, five, etc.," but then once you get to ten, twenty, thirty, it goes, "one ten, two ten, three ten, four ten, five ten, etc," and "two ten five" for 25. "Four ten five," for 45. It may not seem so hard like that, but once you get to advanced numbers, your head may explode from the fact that some numbers take longer than seven seconds to say.

Anyway, I was about to repeatedly slam my head on the desk whilst reviewing the fraction and decimal system in Japanese when I thought, "hey! Why am I having so much trouble with this? Technically, their number system is easier than English!" And that's true. As the artical below states, children of the English language do no t recognize that the number system goes by tens because of all the irregular number names (ie: eleven, twelve, fifteen, twenty, thirty, fourty). Whereas in most asian languages, it is clear (ie: one ten, two ten, three ten five), so learning it is much easier. With our Englishified brains, it may be harder to count numbers like this, "two ten five + six ten four five = ?" (Just in case you don't understand, they don't read the numbers as "256 + 654" -obviously translated into their language-. They literally read it as 2 10 5 6 plus 6 10 5 4). I don't know about you, but my brain is extremely slow at grasping this concept. But, it is easier to understand that way because children learn at an early age that numbers connect with ten. Since the English words and structure for numbers does not make this so apparent (ie: all the irregular numbers), we are at a slight disadvantage. This could also explain why so many people are having trouble with math. Read this:
[SIZE=+4]E[/SIZE]ach time the government releases a new round of test scores, the United States laments the dismal performance of its children compared with children in other nations, particularly those from Asia.

And although differences in classroom instruction may be partly to blame, psychologists are finding that cultural differences in computational ability can begin before school and may have their roots in the words and symbols different cultures use to represent numbers.

For example, Asian children may get a head start in understanding that our number system is base 10 because their number words make that connection explicit whereas English does not. And fractions may pose a particular problem for all children in part because using the same numerals for fractions as for whole numbers may interfere with learning and in part because their brains are hard-wired to deal with whole numbers.

Classroom instruction may be able to address these inherent problems by explicitly teaching the concepts that children struggle with, says psychologist David Geary, PhD, of the Uni-versity of Missouri, Columbia.

Words get in the way
For English-speaking children, number words may hamper learning before they even enter school: Studies by researchers including Kevin Miller, PhD, of the University of Illinois­Urbana- Champaign, consistently show that Asian children learn to count earlier and higher than their American counterparts and can do simple addition and subtraction sooner as well.
Researchers argue that differences in number words may be a major factor behind these differences. The culprit is the way English--as well as some other languages--treats numbers between 10 and 100. The teen numbers in these languages are irregular and difficult for children to learn and the rest of the count is separated into decades with words such as "twenty," "thirty" and "forty."

In most Asian languages the number words are far more consistent. In China, for example, the teen words are presented as 10 plus some ones: Eleven is simply "ten one," 12 is "ten two" and 13 is "ten three." This pattern continues into the decade numbers where 20 is "two ten," 30 is "three ten" and 45 is "four ten five." The language makes it obvious that the number, system is base 10.

This difference in language may partly explain why most Asian children learn by the mid-dle of first grade to subtract and add by thinking of numbers in as a 10 and some ones--an extremely helpful and efficient method of doing addition and subtraction, says Geary. In contrast, children in the United States, where much of the cross-cultural work has been conducted, rarely use such a method, even as they get older, Geary and other researcher find.

In fact, Chinese children who are good at counting at age 5 are already beginning to understand that teen words can be thought of as 10 plus some ones, find psychologists Karen Fuson, PhD and Connie Suk-Han Ho, PhD, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. No children in the United States or England, regardless of their counting proficiency, understood this concept by age 5, they found in a series of studies published in the <I>Journal of Educational Psychology<P> (Vol. 90, No. 3, p. 536&shy;544).
Children in the United States eventually learn that the number system is base 10 and that teens are tens plus ones, but only the most mathematically adept children ever learn to add by adding up to 10 and then adding the remaining ones (as with adding 7+8 by breaking 7 into 5 and 2, adding 2 to 8 to get 10 and then adding 5 for 15), says Fuson.
She has emphasized teaching about base 10 in a curriculum she's developed and is finding in preliminary evaluations that when taught this way children from poor inner-city schools districts quickly begin to outperform children from wealthier school districts. Countries that have similar language problems, but better math scores than the United States, may already use this kind of instruction.

Friction with fractions
Teachers may also need to work on the way they instruct children in fractions, which are notoriously difficult even for adults, say researchers.
Children may have trouble with fractions for several reasons, says Rochel Gelman, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, whose research is geared toward understanding how children's notion of fractions develops. For one, because they learn to use numerals as whole numbers, it might confuse them to use the same symbols in a different way. It may also be that children have hard-wired mental structures that are designed to handle whole numbers and have trouble dealing with fractions.

A new study by University of Chicago psychologist Janellen Huttenlocher, PhD, and her colleagues supports the latter theory. They find that when numerals are removed from the equation and children are asked to calculate with fractions using nonverbal tasks, they do quite well.
In the study of 3- to 7-year-olds, instead of asking children to add numerical fractions, the researchers asked children to recreate fractional sums using wedge-shaped pieces of sponges that, when put together, formed a circle. As the children aged, they grew better at solving the nonverbal fraction problems. In fact, their skills improved in parallel, though at a slower rate, with their skills for manipulating whole numbers.
This finding indicates that children are able to manipulate fractions when they can form a mental model of the problem using real-world objects. They stumble only when they're asked to work with fractions represented as numerals, says Huttenlocher.

"With fractions the villain is putting 3's over 4's," says Huttenlocher, whose study is published in <I>Developmental Psychology<P> (Vol. 35, No. 5, p. 164&shy;174). "Children can mentally handle fractions, but the numbers get in their way--so with 4/5 and 4/8, children think 4/8 must be more because there's an 8 there."

Gelman agrees that interference is likely part of the problem. But she also believes--based on research in animals and humans--that there is an innate and hard-wired part of the brain that was designed through the course of evolution to handle whole numbers. This predisposition makes it easier for children to learn about whole numbers and hinders their learning of fractions, she argues.

"It's hard to think that we have trouble learning fractions just because we have no experience with numbers used this way," says Gelman. "That can't explain why the fraction problem extends well into college for some people."
Regardless of why children, and adults, have trouble with fractions, most researchers agree that teachers should introduce fractions in the context of real-world examples, including slices of a pie, pieces of an apple and portions of candy
If you read what I had here before, ignore it. (As in, before I erased what I wrote_. I hadn't read that correctly, and no I did. But everything on here now is right.
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]In previous studies, Chinese-speaking children have been shown to have an advantage in counting abilities over English-speaking children (e.g., Miller, Smith, Zhu, & Zhang, 1995). In accounting for Chinese children's superior performance, two possible factors have been identified: the transparency of the number naming system in the teen quantities (e.g., 'fifteen' is 'ten-five'); and increased exposure and/or emphasis on importance of counting. Previous studies have used groups of monolingual Chinese- or English- speakers. We wished to find out if bilingual Chinese-English speakers would benefit from the transparency of the Chinese number naming system, and if this transparency transferred to counting in English. We predicted that cross-linguistic transfer would appear as follows: the children should be able to count higher in English than has been reported for monolingual children and equally high in English and Chinese. If counting skills transfer, this would suggest that they are part of general cognitive processes. If counting skills do not transfer, this would suggest that they are part of language-specific processes.
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]We tested 25 Chinese-English bilingual children between the ages of 3- and 5-years of age. All children lived in Alberta. They were tested both in English with an English-speaking experimenter and in Chinese with a Chinese-speaking experimenter. Children were asked to recite numbers in order (abstract counting) and also to count how many objects there were in small, medium, and large arrays. Relative exposure to a language predicted the ability to reach higher numbers in abstract counting as well as counting arrays of objects. Nevertheless, there may have also been some effect of transparency of the Chinese on the children's ability to count arrays of objects. That is, children whose weaker language was Chinese could count higher in Chinese than children whose weaker language was English could count in English. These results suggest that counting abilities do not transfer between languages: counting must be learned on a language-by-language basis. Other possible interpretations of these results are discussed. [/FONT][/FONT]
I'm not sure if I am grasping this clearly, but I think that it is saying that your first langauage is it - that's just how you learn something. If you learned something the indo-european way, then you're probably going to be screwed learning something the (general)asian way (mathematically-speaking). Once your brain learns "25," it is harder and could be near impossible for it to grasp "2 10 5" with higher numbers. I know that I have the dernest time undestanding it. I can't even form higher numbers very well in Japanese and chinese, and I've been speaking them for quite a while (okay. Chinese shouldn't count since I haven't "known" how to speak it (I can understand it) it for too long. But my mom speaks it all the time. Still stumps me with the long numbers.) I'm not saying that it is impossible, but it is pretty darn hard. We've been programmed to do numbers a different way. It can kind of be like saying "1562" is no longer "one thousand, fivehundred, sixty-two," but "flexburger-chimney-scooper-birdie-seven." Once your brain has been programmed to understand "onethousand, five-hundred, sixty-two," then it may not want to accept the other one.

Linguists have also proven that ideograms (the "symbols" you'd find in languages such as Chinese) are easier to read than the phonograms (roman letters we use). As in, students who natively speak Japanese can read Japanese (generally) faster than native english-speakers can speak English, but that's another thread for another day. I wanna stop typing, so...

But you have enough to disscuss, or at least spark intrests.

So, when someone says that asians are smater, that may not necessarily be true, but it has been proven that (generally) they can learn better with their native language than we can with ours (as in, indo-european, not English specifically). I'm trying to sum this up without giving Tan a reason to kill me >.>

And there, Kaz. My font is one size smaller, so you can stop bugging me about it. May your eyes bleed while they try to read this.
-Icy
http://www.apa.org/monitor/apr99/english.html
http://www.psych.ualberta.ca/~jbisanz/Research Group/Projects/BCG.htm

EDIT: This is about math, you guys!
 

Kazmarov

For a Free Scotland
Language not learned in an academic setting from scratch will not be perfect. Thus any native speaker, while more proficent in everyday conversation through slang, is an inferior speaker of the language itself to a foreigner who leanred it in an academic setting.
 

Icyblackflame

Registered Member
Language not learned in an academic setting from scratch will not be perfect. Thus any native speaker, while more proficent in everyday conversation through slang, is an inferior speaker of the language itself to a foreigner who leanred it in an academic setting.
Geez, Kaz. You sure have been posting out in the left field lately... >.>

It’s not about doing these skills in another language. We’re only talking about native languages. It’s about (Example) native English speakers reading and doing math in English as apposed to (example) native Chinese speakers reading and doing math in Chinese. This isn’t about native English-speakers reading and doing math in Chinese as apposed to native Chinese speakers reading and doing math in English.

o_O;;

I was only talking about learning it as an intro and to help further explain to you guys how their system works.
-Icy
 

breathilizer

Resident Ass-Kisser
Kaz, you might want to read the OP. lol

Anyway, I think language is an important factor in educational success. However, we shouldn't be persuaded to believe that Asians are smarter than everyone else just because of their superiority in mathematics. On different playing fields, Latin-based languages offer the advantages. Take the word "or" for example. Some Asian languages (Mandarian Chinese) don't have it, or at least didn't for a long time and thus the introduction of one has been difficult.
 
B

Bunny

Guest
Are native English speakers at a disadvantage?

Not necessarily - because there are less double meanings in English than some other languages. Mind you some languages are more instructional than English too.
 

Icyblackflame

Registered Member
Kaz, you might want to read the OP. lol

Anyway, I think language is an important factor in educational success. However, we shouldn't be persuaded to believe that Asians are smarter than everyone else just because of their superiority in mathematics. On different playing fields, Latin-based languages offer the advantages. Take the word "or" for example. Some Asian languages (Mandarian Chinese) don't have it, or at least didn't for a long time and thus the introduction of one has been difficult.
The majority of Asian languages have adopted the "or" concept in modern use. That's OT. We're talking mathematics here.

And, I wasn't saying that they're smarter. I was just saying that their language makes it easier to learn math because the words allow one's brain to make a connection between terms a lot sooner and easier than English and other indo-european languages.
-Icy

Are native English speakers at a disadvantage?

Not necessarily - because there are less double meanings in English than some other languages. Mind you some languages are more instructional than English too.
You know, it would do many of you a world of good if you actually read the OP rather than just answering the assumed question in the title.

C'mon guys. Get with it.

And,,,just so ya know. What you said about double-meanings. That's so untrue it's not even funny.
-Icy
 
B

Bunny

Guest
Sorry - I'll go back to reading the Commentarii de Bello Gallico (which is jolly long in Latin). But the original post on this page was too long to read.
 

breathilizer

Resident Ass-Kisser
The majority of Asian languages have adopted the "or" concept in modern use. That's OT. We're talking mathematics here.

And, I wasn't saying that they're smarter. I was just saying that their language makes it easier to learn math because the words allow one's brain to make a connection between terms a lot sooner and easier than English and other indo-european languages.

If you want people to stay on topic, you're going to have to be more clear in stating exactly what that topic is. As far as anyone can tell, the topic is about how language plays a role in education. The example you gave happens to be about math, but you never limited the topic to that.

You start off the OP by saying "As we all know, I know a lot about grammar." Afterwards, you exclaim that the OP has nothing to do with grammar.

The title of the thread isn't about mathematics either. It reads, "Are Native English Speakers at a Natural Learning Disadvantage?" The OP gives an example that supports the idea in the field of mathematics. I offered an example that denies the idea in other fields.

Maybe you should divert your educational focus from grammar to communication. As it stands, I think you are the one that needs to read the OP!
 

Icyblackflame

Registered Member
Sorry - I'll go back to reading the Commentarii de Bello Gallico (which is jolly long in Latin). But the original post on this page was too long to read.
You didn't have to read it all, but if you're not going to read enough to get the general point, then don't waste everyone's time with your response.

And...sorry. I forgot that not everyone likes to read information and be as informed as they can be when concerning a topic as I do. Haha, I've gotten a break with this site. On other sites I am active in, there is usually an extremely long OP that I have to read, as well as literally hundreds of pages of replies (in some website's cases, millions. Most I've seen so far was a bit over 3million responces. And not just one thread - several. But those are the forum sites with 6 and 7 million members.) If it's not too much, I'll read through the OP and every post. Generally if it's not too much over 1 or 2 hundred pages, I don't mind reading through it all first. (I'm an info-nut. Sue me) So...I get carried away sometimes with how much reading material I supply. Blame the other sites. They spoil me with information.

Now to get back OT.
-Icy

If you want people to stay on topic, you're going to have to be more clear in stating exactly what that topic is. As far as anyone can tell, the topic is about how language plays a role in education. The example you gave happens to be about math, but you never limited the topic to that.
Sorry. I thought that only talking about math (EDIT: with the exception of a few sentences) would have been at least a little clue. And the fact that the examples from other websites are only about math. Mis-calculated there.
You start off the OP by saying "As we all know, I know a lot about grammar." Afterwards, you exclaim that the OP has nothing to do with grammar.
Well, instead of judging the whole topic by the first 11 words, read the other 8000 and then judge. You'll see that I make the quick transfer into math. It was just an intro.
The title of the thread isn't about mathematics either. It reads, "Are Native English Speakers at a Natural Learning Disadvantage?" The OP gives an example that supports the idea in the field of mathematics. I offered an example that denies the idea in other fields.
So...instead of reading the OP and answering from the given information in there, it's okay to only read the title and answer from that? (I'm not saying that you were doing that.) I wrote that because I was going to talk about our lettering system as well, but my mom was yelling at me to get off the computer, so I could only talk about one. Still, with my "extremely long post," one should have been able to get that this was mainly about math. If it's about pizza, why comment about spaghetti? Even if the title is, "food," you should gather that the topic is specifically pizza. 'Sides, the title option didn't give me enough characters to specifically state math like I wanted to do (once I finished typing it), so I figured that that title, in combination with the given OP, was enough to get the point aross that this was about math. Sorries.
Maybe you should divert your educational focus from grammar to communication. As it stands, I think you are the one that needs to read the OP!
Sorry! I forgot that, instead of judging the entire OP's content, we're supposed to judge it's entirety with the first sentence! I forgot that mentioning an introduction for the first maybe one or two sentences would make the whole point so amazingly unclear that nobody would be able to get it! I forgot that mentioning only one thing totally allowed for the random start of extremely OT topics!

I'm sorry that I was expecting people to actually read the entire OP :scared: ! I was being silly.
-Icy

EDIT: Besides, what you stated was hardly "natural." Well, the "or" concept was "natural," but incorrect seeing how it is not true in most modern cases (I say "most" because I have not studied them all, although they have probably all adopted some form of it by now). And besides, it is completely irrelevant to the topic no matter how you look at it. How does not having the concept of "or" naturally hinder one's learning abilities?
 

breathilizer

Resident Ass-Kisser
Sorry Icy, but you were the one that failed to get your point across. That's evidenced by the fact that everyone missed the point you were trying to make. To fault everyone else (including me, incorrectly) for not reading the entire post is shameful.

Okay, Kaz was waaay off, but if you look at my first reply, it suits both a grammatical topic and the mathematic topic you intended. I simply stated that on different playing fields (thus generating a segway from your post to mine), English speakers have the advantage. Yet, you still gave it a negative response.

I think you're mad because you didn't get the responses you wanted, whatever those might've been. Perhaps, "Icy, you're the smartest guy ever!" Not this time, ace.
 
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