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Wales uses languages with both regular (Welsh) and irregular (English) counting systems. Three groups of 6- and 8-year-old Welsh children with varying degrees of exposure to the Welsh languagethose who spoke Welsh at both home and school; those who spoke Welsh only at home; and those who spoke only Englishwere given standardized tests of arithmetic and a test of understanding representations of two-digit numbers. Groups did not differ on the arithmetic tests, but both groups of Welsh speakers read and compared 2-digit numbers more accurately than monolingual English children. A similar study was carried out with Tamil/English bilingual children in England. The Tamil counting system is more transparent than English but less so than Welsh or Chinese. Tamil-speaking children performed better than monolingual English-speaking children on one of the standardized arithmetic tests but did not differ in their comparison of two-digit numbers. Reasons for the findings are discussed.


Journal article


Philosophical Psychology


Taylor& Francis

Publication Date





523 - 528


Ann Dowker, Oxford University, Dept of Experimental Psychology, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UD, England, Sheila Bala, Oxford University, Balliol College, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BJ, England, Delyth Lloyd, Oxford University, St Hildas College, Cowley Place, Oxford, OX4 1DY, England


Cross-national comparisons, Arithmetic, Counting systems, Place value, Number, Children, Tamil, Welsh