“The language most bilingual people use to mentally solve math problems isn’t necessarily their native language or even the language that is most prevalent in their environment. Psychological research shows it’s the language in which they were first taught math” — Mental Math Dependant On Language, Researchers Find
This interesting article discusses implications for bilingual instruction. Its been a while since I spoke a foreign language. I don’t remember translating simple Math problems into English in my head, but maybe I did. Lately I’ve been playing a kids game that requires me to do a lot of addition and subtraction like 2400 + 2500 – 1450. Since my opponent (who has trouble with such large numbers) often dictates these math problems to me, I have become acutely aware of how I often translate into numeric digits arranged in collumns or scattered patterns in coming up with the answer. I’m not sure I do math in English at all, but rather in diagrams, pictures, digits and symbols.