However as a teacher whose has spent 3 school years in China, teaching math (not English), I do not think you need to completely abandon your explanation. I have a similar explanation for why Chinese schools rely so much on rote compared to Western schools. The long-term effect of both the quantitative and qualitative memory training means Chinese kids have an ability to memorize that far outshines Westerners. I observed a number of fourth graders who memorized the entire Robert Louis Stevenson poem "My Shadow" (in English, of course), in one evening and could recite it without pausing.
Katharine Beals, PhD, is the author of "Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World: Strategies for Helping Bright, Quirky, Socially Awkward Children to Thrive at Home and at School" (Shambhala/Trumpeter)
Katharine is an educator and the mother of three left-brain children. She has taught math, computer science, social studies, expository writing, linguistics, and English as a second language to students of all ages, both in the U.S. and overseas. She is also the architect of the GrammarTrainer, a linguistic software program for language impaired children.
She is currently a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and an adjunct professor at the Drexel University School of Education.
This site uses left-brain and right-brainnot as physiological terms for the actual left and right hemispheres of the brain, but as they are employed in the everyday vernacular. They appear here in the same spirit in which people use type A and type B (themselves the relics of a debunked theory about blood type and character type): an informal shorthand for certain bundles of personality traits.