DAS Research


Difficulties in expressing numbers in words: A study on Primary Four Students with Dyslexia in Singapore

Rebecca Yeo, Siti Aishah Bte Shukri, Aishah Abdullah & Serene Low
Dyslexia Association of Singapore


It is widely acknowledged that any natural number can be expressed in three forms: its Arabic-numeral form (also known as the symbolic form), its word form and its non-symbolic form (such as repeating the same shape to represent the quantity). The ability to read and recognize numbers is one of the basic skills in mathematics. Research has found that children’s ability to recognize the number in kindergarten is a good predictor of their mathematical achievement in first grade (Hornung, Schiltz, Brunner & Martin, 2014).

The process of translating numbers from one representation to another is called transcoding. In this research, we are interested in the process of transcoding numbers from their Arabic numeral form to their word equivalent. While they have been some research on this process, the existing models fail to consider how language features, such as spelling, the appropriate use of punctuation and grammatical structures like the appropriate use of the connector “and” also affect the accuracy of transcoding. These models are also based on people without any language difficulties and may not be sufficient to explain how people with dyslexia transcode numbers from their Arabic numeral form to words and the difficulties they may experience when doing so. This study seeks to explore the difficulties Primary Four students with dyslexia would have with expressing 5-digit numbers in words by looking at the types of errors they were making in this task.