15 January 2012

'kuku' - Japanese unique way of learning the times table

I was curious how English speakers learn the multiplication (i.e. times table) at school. Apparently, there are similar ways of remembering the times table with rhythm like 'kuku' - the Japanese way of memorizing the times table but it is more common that children lean the times table by knowing some patterns and tricks of multiplication. For instance, by using the number line, children learn the 2 times table as the number moves 2,4,6,8, on the line as well as they can easily count by two's (skip count). Next, children learn the 5 times table because it is easy to see a pattern that the last digit always goes 5, 0, 5, 0・・・. Children remembers 'squares'(multiply a number by itself) like 1x1=1, 2x2=4, 3x3=9 4x4=16 etc. at early stage of the multiplication lesson.
In contrast, 'kuku' is the Japanese unique way of leaning the times table by heart with rhythm. It is just like a chant. Keep chanting the times table over and over and people naturally learn it by heart without knowing or leaning the patterns of multiplication. When Japanese children become Year 2 (age 7 - 8), the main curriculum in Math is remembering 'kuku'. Children bring homework everyday, like 'remember the 2 times table by repeating 'kuku' for 10 to 20 times today'. Surprisingly, children master one times tables after a few days practice. It is also a challenge for children whether to pass the 'kuku' test at school. It is the competition who becomes the first person to pass the test and who is the last one to pass it in the class. Obviously, none wants to be the very last person to master the 'kuku' in the class so children tend to make efforts at school and home.
Is there any help for non-Japanese children who want to learn 'kuku' in Japanese?
There are 'kuku' charts available in Japanese but I could not find a good one in English, i.e. in alphabet.
So, why not try making it as the above.
I hope people find it useful!

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