When we first moved to Spain, Lars was in the 5th Grade. We knew at his age it would be a little more challenging to learn Spanish and pick up the other subjects in class. The one place we were certain, he would excel immediately was in Math. We figured math would be the same no matter where you are in the world. You take some numbers and add, subtract, multiply and divide. How could it be any different? Well, we were in for a big surprise when it came to math, especially Long Division in Spain!
What was different with Math?
Not only were the kids learning a new language and hearing all of their lessons in Spanish, but math threw us all for a loop. Yes math! For Anya it wasn’t so difficult, as previously she had only covered addition and subtraction in the USA. That was not the case for Lars.
Of course for Lars, addition and subtraction were no problem at all, but his grade was well beyond that. He had already learned fractions and division in the USA, so it was assumed things would just continue. You know what they did! It was just where he should be, except they do long division differently in Spain. Yep, you did read that correctly.
I know what you are thinking “Math is math, how can you do division differently?”. Well, we had the same thoughts. Lars came to us for help with his homework and we were absolutely stumped. Alan did some quick magic on the internet to try to find examples of long division in Spain. There weren’t many examples of division available, but we did cobble together the pieces and eventually figure it out.
You know how you visit a country who drives on “the other side of the road” and your brain takes a bit to get adjusted? There you are in a taxi sitting in the passenger seat (the driver’s seat of your home country) and things just feel out-of-place. You get a few moments of anxiety and confusion. Well it is no different with this math. It feels like it is dyslexic division for us Americans. Okay, I bet you are wondering what the heck I am talking about.
Let’s just say that everything is backwards and upside down!
Knowing there are many new families living in Spain with children 10+ years, we thought it would be great to provide them a video showing how to do long division in Spain. Sometimes it all makes sense once someone explains it to you. It is specifically difficult for these ages, as they have already learned long division in their home country, so they need to relearn when they arrive in Spain. For Anya, she learned it for the first time in Spain and knows no different. If we ever return to the USA, she would have a difficult time adjusting to the USA way of doing long division.
Oh and guess what, it isn’t just in Spain!
There are 11 countries who do long division in the same way. Go figure. I am not sure which way was first, but if you plan to move with kids to any of these countries, long division will be a bit different for you. On the flip side, if you are living in one of these countries and you plan to move elsewhere, it will be different for you as well.
Watch The Long Division Examples – Video
Lars was kind enough to create a video to help you out and show examples of division.
Please feel free to watch and leave a comment if you have any questions.
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American Expat Kids in Spain – Spanish Public School Education
As we shared with you in many posts, our first few months in Spain were an adjustment to say the least. Here are some posts from the past for you to look through.
Tell us what you think. Do you have any stories to share?