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Learning Times Tables

Date: 12/06/2005 at 22:56:58
From: Brittney
Subject: Math

I want to know the easiest way to learn my times tables.  I am trying
my best but I can't seem to get them.  Can you give me any hints?

Date: 12/07/2005 at 11:07:53
From: Doctor Ian
Subject: Re: Math

Hi, Brittney.

One way to deal with this is to start small.  For example, only worry
about the facts from 1x1 up to 4x4.  Don't worry about larger numbers

Practice those until they're so easy that you get bored, e.g., when
you can do 100 in a row without missing any, and without even thinking
about it.  Then you're on your way!  

Next, you add enough facts to get up to 5x5.  First, learn the 5x__
facts, and then mix them in with the ones you know.  

The key in all this is to avoid "figuring out" the answer.  For
example, if you're trying to think of what 4x5 is, and you use some
trick, like 

  Well, 4x5 is twice as much as 2x5, so that's twice 10, 
  which is 20.

then you're getting the right answer; but you're missing the point,
which is that you have to get the numbers out of your memory without
doing any work.  It has to be as simple as knowing what your middle
name is, or how many fingers you have.  

(If someone asks you about those things, you don't stop to figure it
out, right?  You just _know_ the answers.  That's how your
multiplication facts have to be.  You have to _know_ that 4x5 is 20,
without stopping to think about it at all.)

How do you get to memorize these things?  I'll bet if you think about
it, you can remember the exact words to commercials that you've seen
on television, even if you have no interest at all in what they're
selling.  Isn't that true?  How did you memorize those words?  Did you
try to do it?  No.  You memorized them because you've heard them a
zillion times.  The same thing is true of your multiplication facts. 
If you're not getting them yet, it's because you haven't heard them
enough yet.  

Give this a try, and let me know how it's going, okay? 

- Doctor Ian, The Math Forum 
Associated Topics:
Elementary Multiplication

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