Just my two cents worth. As a child growing up in China, I learned about numbers essentially in the way one read from left to right, zeroes are read. For small numbers, I would read off the place names and omitting the zeroes. For example:
103 would be read off either as one zero three or as one hundred three.
Elsewhere, I think it was in the NYTimes, it was mentioned in a column by Albert Shanker that perhaps the peculiarity of counting has something to do with the fact that U.S. students are not as good as Japanese students. Of course, it was pointed out that French, German, etc. are just as peculiar. In any case, when I first learned counting in English, I found the going tough. The episode was repeated again when I learned to read German, then French (in math only). Linguists apparently noted that with some exceptions, most people are unable to learn to speak a new language without accents after the age of about 13-14. A recent piece in the NYTimes asserted that if a child had not started practicing violin by the age of 12 or so, then the brain development is much less complex (in certain areas) when compared with those that did. There apparently was not much difference between the gifted ones and the others as long as they both began before the age of 12.