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Is language important in mental arithmetic. (English)
Singapore J. Educ. 11, No. 2, 35-44 (1991).
The language in which a person first learns counting and simple mathematics often seems to be their subsequent language of choice for mental arithmetic. A summary report is offered of an enquiry into the possible role of covert translation in mental arithmetic, based on an experimental study of 128 Primary 4 children. It is argued that performance is potentially imparied by the use of covert translation or other forms of covert linguistic switching. Digit spans and articulatory speeds in English, Malay, Mandarin and Hokkien are also reported, and shown to correlate with speed of mental arithmetic. It is concluded that familiarity and speed of articulation of a language may both affect mental arithmetic. Mean digit span differences between languages appear to reflect articulatory properties of the respective languages, and this limits their potential value for assessing intelligence. (orig.)
Classification: C52
Keywords: digit span; translation
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