Asian children, including Chinese children, perform better than their English-speaking peers in cross-national mathematics studies. This superior Asian performance is attributed to several factors including cultural beliefs, educational systems and practices, and the Chinese number naming system. Given the limited empirical evidence on pre-school mathematics learning in Chinese societies, the outcomes of Western studies are often borrowed and adopted in curriculum planning in Asian schools. The study reported in this paper investigated the performance of Hong Kong Chinese pre-school children based on Western studies involving English-speaking children, and examined the relationship between the Chinese number naming system and children’s performance in number and operation concepts. Data were collected from 299 pre-school children aged between 3 and 5 years. The learning sequence of the children in mastering number and operation concepts was established using the Rasch Model. This study provides empirical evidence for the feasibility of borrowing lists of mathematics concepts from studies of English-speaking children to serve as a reference for school-based curriculum planning in a Chinese-speaking context. However, it is not enough to establish the relationship between children’s performance and the Chinese number naming system. Classroom instruction and cultural beliefs in mathematics learning are also important in explaining children’s performance. Copyright © 2012 Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Inc.
CitationNg, S. S. N. (2012). The Chinese number naming system and its impact on the arithmetic performance of pre-schoolers in Hong Kong. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 24(2), 189-213.
- Early childhood
- Chinese number naming system