Slower to Learn Math in Chinese

This stupid M’kini article has got me a bit riled up at how stupid some people can be. The article is entitled “Faster to learn maths and science in Chinese” and the author obviously does not know a thing about math. What the author is talking about is arithmetic, not math. Even ignoring that, the article claims that, “Does anyone knows that why Chinese school students are good in mathematics and science? One major reason is because of the language. Mandarin is a more efficient language than other language.”

Utter nonsense.

To count 1 to 10 in Mandarin, it takes 10 syllables. To count in French, it also takes 10. For numbers above ten, things get a bit more muddled. In some cases, it takes less syllables in Mandarin and in many other cases, it takes less syllables in French. To express simple expressions such as 2+2=4 it takes six syllables in Mandarin. To do the same in French, it takes only five syllables. By the same argument, we should all be learning arithmetic in French, which I would totally support because it would get rid of this whole racist argument on which language is better for math.

I particularly like this argument:

For the one hour of a mathematics examination, a Chinese-educated student may use 40 minutes of the time to answer all the questions and spends another 20 minutes checking his answers. While a Bahasa educated student may not able to answer all the questions within the one hour allotted.

I wonder if the author ever took math in school. You friggin’ answer math questions in math! Maybe only idiotic bigots answer the math questions in Mandarin, I don’t know. There are reasons why there exists a well developed set of mathematical symbols (often based off Greek) that have very unambiguous and exact meanings, unlike language that is subject to the ambiguous interpretations of grammar and syntax.

It is best to learn math, in math!

Science, meanwhile, requires a good memory and imagination. ‘Han Ji’ are symbolic and pictorial characters. There are more than thousand of these Chinese characters. To learn Chinese, a student is indirectly trained to memorise and this thus stimulates the brain cells for memory and imagination. Hence, from the learning of Chinese, indirectly, students are trained up in the field of mathematics and science.

Oh my goodness, obviously the author has never done science – or never became very good at it. It is impossible to do science with memory. Try doing physics with memory and see how far that gets you. Try doing that with chemistry. Science is about understanding processes and phenomena. It is not about rote memorisation, which is something that I agree Chinese school students are really good at. Furthermore, there is nothing imaginary about science – at least for the hard sciences.

Maybe the author mistakes pseudo-sciences for science.

Kong Kok-Haw, you should refrain from writing on things that you have no business writing about since you obviously neither understand science nor math at all. I certainly pray that you did not come from a Chinese school because you are not the right person to defend the use of the language.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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