How Japanese Kids Learn To Multiply – Amazing, No Need to Learn Japanese :: UPDATED ::

There are some great resources available online to improve your times tables and multiplication skills. None the less, I came across this method though a Japanese friend and it shows how Japanese pupils learn to multiply in maths lessons at a young age. The great thing is that you do not need to learn Japanese to master this method, all you need to do is to be able to draw and count lines and dots. You actually multiply without actually multiplying! You can also take a look at some hints and tips to memorise your times tables as a resource to help pupils develop this skill or you can take a look at this video by Professor Arthur Benjamin that suggests that all you need to know is 3 simple facts to remember your times tables.

This method has proven very popular from the retweets and the feedback I have received from fellow practitioners. To date it has been carried out as a Maths starter to thousands and thousands of Maths learners around the world. Pupils are taught this method in Japanese  primary schools at a very early age to develop the ability to multiply large numbers. There are a number of examples at the bottom of this article.

It makes you ponder how we are teaching Mathematics to the kids of tomorrow in the west in comparison to the learning of Japanese students. I have had a few Japanese students confirm that this is how they learnt to multiply and have said that they found learning this method easy as all you need is the ability to draw parallel lines and count dots.

How Japanese Kids Learn to Multiply Video Tutorial

A good way to introduce this starter is to put up a map of the world and get learners to point out Japan on the map. As a teacher you can then move into how Japanese Pupils learn to multiply and follow one of the examples below. You do not need to learn Japanese but if you teach the Japanese words for multiply, divide, add and subtract it would be a great example of cross curricular activities and SMSC.

Five Examples of the Japanese Multiplication Method

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Categorised as: Extension Task | Funny | Lesson plenary | Lesson starters | Mathematics | Teacher


9 comments on “How Japanese Kids Learn To Multiply – Amazing, No Need to Learn Japanese :: UPDATED ::

  1. Trip Foster on said:

    how would you do 450 * 500?

  2. Masta on said:

    Wow Amazing

  3. CCSSIMath on said:

    It’s a myth that this is “how” Japanese students learn to multiply. Like many other aspects of Japanese math education, alternate ways of solving problems are explored, with good methods retained, poor methods rejected, and generalizations made. But look in a Japanese elementary textbook, and multiplication is done the same way as everywhere else: with times tables and carrying.

  4. Megala on said:

    Simple and amazing!

  5. Vilas Thakur on said:

    All the Tricks & Techniques are very nicely interpreted !!

  6. Aaron on said:

    This is the most helpful thing I’ve seen in math in a loooong time! I learned this method almost instantly and I can’t think of any other way to do it now. Soon I hope I can visualize the lines all in my head and calculate long numbers this way!

    To do 450 X 500, draw the lines, and for the zeros, I use “dotted” lines to count as a non-intersected line. When drawing the circles, these dotted lines count as zero. The answer is 225,000 this way.

  7. pk on said:

    It’s just one method among many, there are more efficient methods – its about keeping the effective & efficient & dropping the others. To me this terribly inefficient as I had it solved in about 3-5secs in my head using doubling & halving. I would expect my capable students to do the same but with paper.

  8. Tom McDougal on said:

    I checked with a colleague who taught elementary mathematics in Japan for 19 years. He never saw it, and tricks like this are not consistent with the national Course of Study, which emphasizes conceptual understanding first followed by the same algorithm most Americans are taught. This trick *might* be something that is taught in some afternoon cram schools. Although it is interesting to think about why this technique works, it’s tedious for larger numbers and not actually useful unless you don’t know your single-digit multiplication facts. Try using it to multiply 65 x 87, or 362 x 48. It’s a pain.

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