Recently I was at the swimming pool watching my kids swim. I overheard a conversation between a Father and his daughter's friend. He was busy trying to find out what she had been doing at school recently. She said that she had be learning her times tables but said she hadn't learnt the 8 times tables that was being tested that Friday. This Dad was awesome and launched into a rousing speech on the benefits of learning and how you have to work hard and practice knowledge. Great stuff! Then he met her at her level and asked what times tables she did know. She knew her 5 times tables, so he asked her a question. The question he asked was what's 5 x 8? This question is translated and taught at school as what is 5 groups of 8? Adults have figured out the concept that 5 x 8 and 8 x 5 give the same answer - but they are not the same question. Same answer, different question. I wonder what would of happened if he had asked the question what is 8 x 5 - what is 8 groups of 5? Possibly she could of got it right by using her counting in 5s knowledge or other visual strategies.
Maybe she felt in that situation that she was not successful at her 5 times tables . I hope she did well in the test and nailed those 8 times tables!