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  Weekly Feature: (January 19, 2003)


The Language of Mathematics
Carey's Weekly Feature


You may have heard about learning “the language of mathematics." Is mathematics another language students are required to learn in school? It needn’t be. If your math instruction is in English virtually every word you are exposed to will be found in an English language dictionary, including those words you hear, read, or write for the first time in math class.

Remembering the vocabulary introduced in mathematics should not be any more difficult than in other subjects. Use your everyday vocabulary whenever possible. Acute is a commonly used adjective meaning sharp. It should be fairly obvious why an angle measuring less than 90 degrees would be described as acute. You can also do the opposite and use mathematical terms to expand your everyday vocabulary.

Even your written work is in English. The symbols used are a type of shorthand but can be replaced with a written word or phrase. “=” is the word “equals” or the phrase “is equal to”. “x = 2” is the complete sentence “the value of the variable x is equal to two." “x = 2” is just faster to write.

The language of mathematics is whatever language you are learning it in.

See the article below for more information:

Integrating Mathematics and Language



Visit Last Week's Feature:
An Illustrated Approach to Vocabulary 

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