How To Do Long Division in Spain

How to do long division in Spain and how to divide in the US.

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.  

An explanation and video in English showing long division in Spain or division in Spanish style & videos of how to divide in the US too. Read more on

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 How To Do Long Division in Spain!

Division in Spain is first up, then Division in the USA will be shown at the end.

What was different with Division or 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!  We thought math was just numbers, so how could we possibly go wrong?  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 divide numbers differently in Spain is different!  Yep, you did read that correctly.

Long division in Spanish is different from the USA!

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. 

Everything was in the wrong place and we couldn’t wrap our minds around it.  Here we are as the parents and we are supposed to be able to help our kids.  We didn’t know what to do.  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.

  1. Spain
  2. Italy
  3. France
  4. Portugal
  5. Lithuania
  6. Romania
  7. Turkey
  8. Greece
  9. Belgium
  10. Russia
  11. Iran

How To do Long Division In Spain Examples – Video

Lars was kind enough to create a video to help you out and show long division examples of how to do long division steps.  

Please feel free to watch and leave a comment if you have any questions.  While this division is what we experienced in Spain, it should also apply if you are trying to do long division in Italy, long division in France and several other European countries.

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examples of long division in Spain. Yes it is different from other countries, so read the post and watch the video. More on

Living in Spain as an American Expat Kid – 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 from our experience living in Spain as an American family, with kids attending Spanish public schools.

The Kids adjusting to Expat Living – Video Interview Series
Kids Interviews

Tell us what you think about division in Spanish.  Do you have any stories to share?  Are you an American family living in Spain?  It doesn’t matter where you are from, you are likely to have your stories to share with your move to Spain, so feel free to share.

How To Do Long Division in the USA!

So many people have asked us how it is different from division in the USA.  So instead of us creating a new video, we found the perfect videos on how to divide for you below! 

He covers all of the long division steps in a clear and easy to learn manner.  First is the basic division of one number into another number.  Next is a video of long division and you will know how to divide in no time!

Basic Division USA

Long Division USA

16 thoughts on “How To Do Long Division in Spain

    • really that’s it. the terms are close enough and numbers are numbers. the period and comma are also swapped so one thousand is 1.000 rather than 1,000

  1. Hi, I’m a math teacher and I’m investigating the difference in mathematics in different countries. I would love to study more about the differences between mathematics in America and Spain. Do you have a file (such as a PDF) from the mathematical books of these countries?

  2. My son just started school here in Spain last month and I had the same thinking that Math is universal, should be the same everywhere in the world. I focused all efforts on Lengua Castellano since we do not speak Spanish fluently, also learning with him through the process of helping him do his homework. It was my husband who noticed that he does division in a different way than what they teach in school. In the end he would get the same answer, but it must be confusing to him everytime he sees a different method than what he is used to. I told myself I have to learn this method of long division here in Spain so I could help my son. I am happy to come across this article when I searched Google! I can relate to it so much and I want to thank you for sharing your experience, it’s very helpful!

    • Oh that is awesome Cathy! We are glad you found it helpful. It was one of the little bits of culture shock and frustration, so we thought we’d share. Good luck with your journey.

  3. thanks so much, Could you ask if he Knows how to put the division in the `ALGORITMO DE ECLUIDES`ive got an exam coming up and im stuck on it. Im in 2ºeso – Alicante

    • The “Algoritmo de Euclides” is just a quick and simple way of calculating the Greatest Common Divisor (GCD -> In Spanish it’s MCD) of two numbers. Generally it’s used for numbers that are too big to factorize or it would take a really long time.

      Let’s say you’re supposed to calculate the GCD of 899 and 1023 using the algorithm. That just means dividing the greater number (1023) by the other (899). The next step would be to divide the divisor (899) by the remainder of the first division (124). Keep on dividing the divisors by the remainders until a division doesn’t have a remainder. This might sound confusing at first but it’s pretty straightforward. It should look something like this:

      View image here

      The divisor of the final division (the one without a remainder) is your GCD… In this case it would be 31.

      Hopefully this helped, it’s kind of hard to show division like this, so if you still don’t understand something let me know.

      Good luck!!

  4. We’re free the UK but my kids were born here in Spain. Long division is the biggest homework headache for us! To divide with one digit is OK, but with two or more??!! I would recommend Lars to upload a video of the method involved for that….Please! My 11 yo son would be so grateful!! Thanks! Jess

    • Ah thanks Jess! I will let Lars know. He just started back to school today (ESO 3 – grade 9), so may be focused on that. Let us know if there are any other topics or pain points, which would be of help to cover in video. Where are you guys living?

  5. In Colombia and I believe other countries in South America too. I learned this way as a kid and then moved to the US and had to flip it.

    • Isn’t it odd how different areas do math differently? That is one area where we thought it would be the same for all. Actually, once you learn, it isn’t so bad.

    • Yeah, Colombia does this as well. I don’t remember ever doing the squiggly thing that closes the division, but otherwise that’s pretty much the way I learnt it. Every time I see long division on american media though, it looks so confusing because it’s flipped.

      • Ha! that is too funny Jennifer, because we were confused too. I wonder why there are 2 different ways to do it? Well, at least we learned how to do it one way or another. We’d love to visit Columbia one day.

  6. I don’t know how they do maths in the US anymore but math in the UK is really different from what I’m used to! I can’t even explain it but it involves grouping things? I don’t know whats wrong with the old way we learned. It was easier from what I could tell. My son is doing long division now too and they encourage him to do it without the ‘long’ part, i.e, carry it all in his head and do the working out in his head. highly confusing if you are just starting a concept. I remember we had lots of practice working it out by hand on paper before they started encouraging us to drop the working out part.

    • Wow all in your head? That is a stage you get to eventually, but when learning it seems you should see what you are doing. Oh well. As long as they learn. Thanks Shobha

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