Creating words in mathematics

Article


Galligan, Linda. 2016. "Creating words in mathematics." Australian Mathematics Teacher. 72 (1), pp. 21-30.
Article Title

Creating words in mathematics

ERA Journal ID35677
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorGalligan, Linda
Journal TitleAustralian Mathematics Teacher
Journal Citation72 (1), pp. 21-30
Number of Pages10
Year2016
Place of PublicationAdelaide, Australia
ISSN0045-0685
Web Address (URL)http://www.aamt.edu.au/Journals/Journals-Index
Abstract

INTRODUCTION:
A National Numeracy Report (COAG, 2008) and the Australian Curriculum (2014) have recognised the importance of language in mathematics. The general capabilities contained
within the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics (2014) highlight literacy as an important tool in the teaching and learning of mathematics, from the interpretation of word problems to the discussion of mathematics in the classroom. The nationally commissioned National Numeracy Report (COAG, 2008), recommended that the language and literacies of mathematics be explicitly taught since language can be a significant barrier to understanding mathematics.
As teachers routinely assess students’ understanding of mathematics through literacy (often through reading and writing), students may struggle to understand the mathematics because they have specific language difficulties associated with assessment tasks set. Chapter 2 of the National Numeracy Review Report (COAG, 2008) highlights the role of language in mathematics
learning, and identifies a number of features of language that can have an impact on understanding mathematics. These include:

1. The mathematics register: the words, phrases and associated meanings used to express mathematical ideas (Halliday, 1978). This includes the etymology of
the words of mathematics as well as the syntax, semantics, orthography and phonology of the language itself and its impact on understanding mathematics (Galligan, 2001).
2. Language in the classroom: the use of language by teachers to communicate ideas and the dialogue used by students to communicate and learn mathematics
(Leung, 2005; Sullivan, 2011; Walshaw & Anthony, 2008). This language use is particularly difficult for English language learners (Adoniou & Yi, 2014).
3. Technical communication: the accepted standard use of language and symbols to communicate mathematical ideas, both orally and in written form. There are Australian Standards on how to write much of the quantitative information in scientific and technical reports, and also in trade and industry (Australian Government, n.d.).

This article focuses on one part of the first feature; that is, words in mathematics, their derivation and meaning.

ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390109. Mathematics and numeracy curriculum and pedagogy
470409. Linguistic structures (incl. phonology, morphology and syntax)
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Agricultural, Computational and Environmental Sciences
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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