First of all, that first statement is an overgeneralization. Not every Chinese person is going to be skilled at math of course. It’s ignorant to go into these stereotypes.

But try this:

4,8,5,3,9,7,6.

Read them out loud to yourself. Now look away, and spend twenty seconds memorizing that sequence before saying them out loud again.

If you speak English, you have about a 50 percent chance of remembering that sequence perfectly If you’re Chinese, though, you’re almost certain to get it right every time.

Why is this?

One explanation is because the Chinese language allows them to read numbers faster.

Chinese number words are remarkably brief. Most of them can be said in less than 1/4th of a second (for instance, 4 is ‘si’ and 7 ‘qi’)

Their English equivalents—”four,” “seven”—are longer: pronouncing them takes about 1/3 of a second.

The English number system is also VERY illogical.

For example, right after the word 10, instead of saying one-ten, two-ten, three-ten we have different words like 11,12.

Not so in China, Japan and Korea. They have a logical counting system. Eleven is ten one. Twelve is ten two. Twenty-four is two ten four, and so on.

That difference means that Asian children learn to count much faster. Four year old Chinese children can count, on average, up to forty. American children, at that age, can only count to fifteen, and don’t reach forty until they’re 5 years old.

The regularity of their number systems also means that Asian children can perform basic functions—like addition—far more easily.

Ask an English seven-year-old to add thirty-seven plus twenty two, in her head, and she has to convert the words to numbers (37 + 22).

Ask an Asian child to add three-tens-seven and two tens-two, and no translation is necessary.