# a math question... learning to count in a different language

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My son is seven (8 in October) and still struggles to count to 20. It's the teen numbers that trip him up every time.

He has sensory issues and an auditory processing disorder. He also doesn't know his alphabet and struggles with basic phonemic awareness. We're working on that.

I was talking with some other people (a few of them teachers) here in Wales the other day and they were mentioning that learning math through the medium of Welsh is much easier because in Welsh the teen numbers are basically ten and one, ten and two, ect. instead of eleven, twelve, ect.

My son is ready for basic addition and subtraction, his only issue is that he is being held back by not knowing how to count and not knowing the names of the numbers consistently (the teens and up that is). He can write them and do basic beginning addition. He knows the order of the numbers when he's reading them and knows which numbers are greater than, less than, equal.

So I was thinking of teaching him to count in Welsh and using the Welsh number names for a little while so he could go ahead and move past this obstacle (counting and number names) and into addition and subtraction. We'd still work on the English counting as well, but use the Welsh names in addition to English. I have Welsh neighbors and friends who are willing to help me with pronunciation.

Because, here is the thing, we work daily with phonemic awareness and learning letter sounds and names but none of it sticks. For the longest time he only would say, "I can't read" not "I'm learning to read". I started having him learn words by sight (a la Teach a Child to Read with Children's Literature) and now he can "read" three books and tells people he's learning to read and talks about when he finishes learning to read. I've made a list of words he knows from one book and am teaching him to recognize them out of context of the book. (He basically memorized the books, but he does know a few words and can see the same words repeating in the other books). So I think this number thing might work.

Has anyone ever attempted such a thing? Am I totally insane here?

I can explain more if you want. I just really would like to hear from people who either think I'm making a huge mistake (and why) or people who are on a similar path.

So critisize or praise, just give me lots of good reasons why.

:lurk5:

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This is exactly what RS Math does in level A. They learn to count like this: one ten one, one ten two, and so on. Then, you eventually move over to the traditional number names. If your son had a lot of trouble with that, I don't see why you couldn't continue for a longer time with the nontraditional names. So, no, not crazy at all.

Lisa

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Hobbes learned to count in Chinese at about the same time as in English. The Mandarin words for numbers are also straightforward (10-1, 10-2, 10-3....) It certainly didn't get in the way of his learning the English numbers, and may have helped.

Laura

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Why would you be wary of learning sight words? I'm still teaching him phonics.

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Why would you be wary of learning sight words? I'm still teaching him phonics.

From my reading grade level tests of a lot of children over the last 14 years (probably hundreds, I haven't kept track), in my non-random, non-scientific study of every parent I've talked to for more than 15 minutes, I've found that 30% to 40% of children taught with a mixture of sight words and phonics will have reading difficulties. (And, I've remediated a lot of them.) Pure whole word methods result in about 60 to 70% problems.

For the schools and homeschoolers where they teach phonics with few sight words (less than a dozen sight words taught), I have not yet found a child with reading problems. I thought I found 2, in 2 different schools in 2 different states, but I later found out that they were transferred in from schools that taught sight words.

Here's more information about how to teach all but 5 of the most commonly taught 220 sight words phonetically and some theories why they are harmful when taught as wholes by sight:

Edited by ElizabethB
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The problem is, this is not your average child. He is really delayed when it comes to phonics and just can't get his head around sounding out words. We had to teach him to rhyme (and still he gets a little confused.)

For example, we are Americans living in the UK. We know a few other American families here, one of whom goes to our home ed group. My son had played with these children for quite some time before he realized that his friend, P, was from America, too. That was only after P mentioned it!

I am still teaching him phonemic awareness and how to sound out words, but I just feel like at this point if I was to only let him learn to read via phonics I'd be doing him a huge disservice. He has gone from saying, "I can't read" to "I'm learning to read". He now picks up the books he can read and silently reads to himself out of them. Truth be told, he's memorized them but is beginning to recognise the words out of context. This is a great thing though since memory is also an issue.

I can agree that perhaps phonics is the best method for most kids, but when you are dealing with a learning disabilty it's a whole different ballgame.

Because I can either stop teaching him to read and focus only on the alphabet and letter sounds (which is where he is still at a preschool level) or just let him take off and learn to read while still working on the phonemic awareness.

I am just not convinced that phonics is the best method for a child who has auditory processing issues. I agree that the ability to sound out words is important, I'm teaching him that, but I don't think that is how he is going to learn to read.

I'm eager to hear other points of view, though.

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The problem is, this is not your average child. He is really delayed when it comes to phonics and just can't get his head around sounding out words. We had to teach him to rhyme (and still he gets a little confused.)

For example, we are Americans living in the UK. We know a few other American families here, one of whom goes to our home ed group. My son had played with these children for quite some time before he realized that his friend, P, was from America, too. That was only after P mentioned it!

I am still teaching him phonemic awareness and how to sound out words, but I just feel like at this point if I was to only let him learn to read via phonics I'd be doing him a huge disservice. He has gone from saying, "I can't read" to "I'm learning to read". He now picks up the books he can read and silently reads to himself out of them. Truth be told, he's memorized them but is beginning to recognise the words out of context. This is a great thing though since memory is also an issue.

I can agree that perhaps phonics is the best method for most kids, but when you are dealing with a learning disabilty it's a whole different ballgame.

Because I can either stop teaching him to read and focus only on the alphabet and letter sounds (which is where he is still at a preschool level) or just let him take off and learn to read while still working on the phonemic awareness.

I am just not convinced that phonics is the best method for a child who has auditory processing issues. I agree that the ability to sound out words is important, I'm teaching him that, but I don't think that is how he is going to learn to read.

I'm eager to hear other points of view, though.

I would try syllables first, and if he truly can't sound them out, I would try sight syllables instead of sight words. Webster's Speller is a good way to teach by syllables, see the link below and this post:

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Yeah, we;ve done syllables. I'll take a look at your link, but I'm still not convinced.

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Yeah, we;ve done syllables. I'll take a look at your link, but I'm still not convinced.

This includes nonsense syllables, a whole table full of syllables, then the words in Webster are divided according to syllables already learned.

Here is the syllabary:

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But so far, my child doesn't really connect a symbol with a sound. He can't even tell you what most letters sound like (or even their names). He really can't recognize any words out of context. He has a few books memorized and I'm working with him to recognize the words in them when they show up in other places.

As far as phonemic awareness goes, he is still at a very early stage. He only just now can rhyme and is hit and miss with matching up initial consonants (like if you give him the word bird and ask him to come up with something that starts with the same sound, he often can't do that.) We work daily on phonemic awareness, and we will.

But, for the sake of his self esteem, and because he is eager to learn to read, we are working on the approach used in Teach a Child to Read with Children's LIterature? It still means we work with sounds in a word and letter sounds.

It's just simply an auditory processing disorder that he has and I can either try to make him learn the way most children learn, or I can work with how he is already learning. Of course phonemic awareness is important. That is why I still constantly work with him on it. But, I just feel like I need to be willing to step out of my own educational philosophy to find what works for him. Believe me, I will look at your information and give it a go with my son. I am also going to continue using what works with him and so far that is the approach laid out in Teach a child to read with Children's Literature.

I'm glad you shared your information. I just think that with children with learning differences (disabilities), it is important to know that no one method will work for all of them. (To be honest, I think the same applies to all children.) yes, i could stop with our current reading lessons and only do phonemic awareness, but I just feel like that would be holding him back.

But, this thread is about math, I'm sorry for derailing it! I'm excited about my new math approach. I've already begun learning the Welsh myself and have Welsh speaking friends coming over tomorrow to help me with pronunciation. I'll keep y'all posted.

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