Should We View Math as a Language?
Note: In the video and post below, we compare math language to the English language.
Building Math Awareness
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After reading our thoughts about math, leave a comment below and let us know if you agree or disagree with the way we believe math should be presented to students.
Watch our video below to see that when teachers and students communicate using Math symbols and vocabulary, it is similar to communicating in a known spoken language. It may also help with making math easier to learn and with improving learning goals.
Table of Contents
Why View Math as a Language?
Students in a math class need to be able to communicate their answers in clear and easy to follow steps. Often times students would rather avoid communicating a response and just give the final answer.
However, when teachers insist that students communicate the steps to answers using math vocabulary, students will see (eventually) that it proves to be an invaluable tool for a solid understanding of the concepts.
How Should Students Understand Math as a Language?
At EduKitchen we believe that it is important for the student to take the time to go through explaining each step.
Students at first may complain or feel like it takes a long time to explain each step in answering a question for a simple answer, but as students get used to communicating the process it will become more apparent to them that they are speaking a new language – the language of math.
How Should Teachers Teach Math as a Language?
EduKitchen believes that the way we see math may help in whether we feel capable in understanding the concepts. Math contains it’s own set of “vocabulary” and “symbols” and therefore, why can’t we use math in the same way as – say for example – we use English?
In order to explain what we see we use math vocabulary through the medium of English language.
A Sample Math Problem
The Benefits To Viewing Math as a Language
If students were given the opportunity to see that when we use math vocabulary in writing the steps to a math solution, it is like writing an outline of an “English” paragraph, they may find the following benefits:
I. Enhances Communication
When teachers and students continually make use of the math vocabulary in explaining answers, it may make communication of topics easier to understand between them. It may also make it easier for students to explain their answers to the teacher or others students when they are comfortable using the math vocabulary.
Therefore, we teachers get students into the habit of answering or explaining math concepts, communication will be easier for all! When it becomes easier to explain concepts, this builds confidence and enthusiasm in both teachers and students.
II. Improves Vocabulary
In explaining concepts in math, previous knowledge of vocabulary allows for teachers and students to gain understanding of new and related vocabulary in more complex concepts in math.
III. Simplifies Knowledge of Complex Math Concepts
Improving math vocabulary not only allows for better communication of concepts in math, it also makes learning more complex math concepts easier. Complex math concepts build on previous knowledge, and therefore when students are comfortable communicating previous knowledge, the transition to more complex knowledge becomes easier to understand.
IV. Strengthens Problem Solving Skills
In understanding how to approach math word problems, connections to language need to be met. When attempting to answer math problems written through words, we must translate written words into math vocabulary. In being able to do so, will make it easier in following the important steps to problem solving in math .
V. Recognizes Math is a Universal Language
When students become comfortable using math vocabulary and learning to speak math language. it makes it easier to connect with international students when it comes to math. Students make speak different languages outside the math classroom, but when they switch to understanding math, it may connect students from different backgrounds. math, when seen as a “universal” language, brings students from around the world together in shared knowledge.
Math as a Language Guide
The five benefits to viewing maths as a language mentioned in this article are really meant to show that math is not something to be afraid of. Because the truth of the matter is that math can make people feel ashamed and embarrassed about how they think if they don’t understand it.
When we allow students to take their own unique approaches to communicating what they do or don’t understand when it comes to math, then their emotions towards the subject may change for the better.
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Leave us a comment below and share your thoughts on this article and our suggestions for recognizing Math as a very different but special kind of language we can all learn!