Numbers and figures make me panic
October 20, 2012 11:46 PM Subscribe
Any methods for instantaneous number recognition in foreign languages?
posted by thesailor to Education (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live in Japan and have recently taken a job that involves extremely fast paced face-to-face and telephone interaction with business customers. I can speak Japanese fairly fluently, which was a condition of getting the job in the first place, however in the month since starting the job I have come across a problem that I never realised I had before. The nature of the job involves constant negotiation of numbers, (i.e. in the form of prices, percentage points and dates/times) back and forth between myself and clients. I am fine with spitting out long numbers myself as I can do this at my own pace, but I am having trouble being able to process numbers spoken to me without having to pause for a moment and think. This culminated on Friday with a customer complaining to my manager that I didn't understand his order the first time therefore wasting his time. The fact was that I did understand it, but I had to get him to repeat the figures and even the date of effect a couple of times because he said it so fast.
I'd always had a bit of trouble with maths subjects at school, so this weekend I did an experiment to see if I was simply "number retarded" or "Japanese number retarded". First I got an American friend to speak out a heap of prices and figures in English at top speed to see how quickly I could type them down. Then I got a Japanese friend to do the same in Japanese. Unsurprisingly, I got all the English number 100% but got all flustered with Japanese and made a heap of mistakes.
What I'd like to know is if there are any known systems or methods that I can try to make number recognition in Japanese as quick and natural as it is in English. When someone says "roppyaku hachi juu san" I want the number 683 to pop into my head as instantly as if someone said "six hundred and eighty three".
One final point is that even numbers below 10000 are problematic (i.e. when the base counting system for each language corresponds). So the problem doesn't seem to be with the "1 man" vs "10 thousand" thing. Mefi Japanese speakers will know what I'm talking about here.