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Thomasenia Lott Adams

Reading mathematics:
An understanding of mathematical More than words
literacy draws on many of the
same skills as print literacy. can say

of all types express and construct meaning—see

y colleagues often discuss in facul-
ty meetings the various components Berghoff (1998)—but this would involve stu-
of teaching children to read with dents’ abilities to visualize, an additional and
fluency, proficiency, and comprehension. When major topic. I omit them from this discussion.
I visit these colleagues’ offices, I notice that their Mathematics is a language that people use to
shelves are lined with books about teaching chil- communicate, to solve problems, to engage in
dren to read, children reading and being read to, recreation, and to create works of art and me-
helping children with reading difficulties, pro- chanical tools. It is a language of words, numer-
viding strategies for struggling readers, and als, and symbols that are at times interrelated
reading in the content areas as an integral part and interdependent and at other times disjointed
of the school experience. The notion of reading and autonomous. In fact, Wakefield (2000) sug-
in content areas, specifically mathematics, is the gested that the following characteristics of math-
impetus for this article. However, many people ematics do indeed qualify it as a language:
limit such reading to activities like reading bi- 1. Abstractions (verbal or written symbols representing
ographies of mathematicians, reading the history ideas or images) are used to communicate.
of mathematics concepts, and reading mathe- 2. Symbols and rules are uniform and consistent.
matics word problems with real-life contexts. 3. Expressions are linear and serial.
While these activities are important to students’ 4. Understanding increases with practice.
school mathematics experiences, what is often
5. Success requires memorization of symbols and rules.
excluded or given little attention is the basic no-
tion of reading mathematics as a language. 6. Translations and interpretations are required for novice
Reading mathematics is a multifaceted task
because the reader is challenged to acquire com- 7. Meaning is influenced by symbol order.
prehension and mathematical understanding 8. Communication requires encoding and decoding.
with fluency and proficiency through the read- 9. Intuition, insightfulness, and “speaking without thinking”
ing of numerals and symbols, in addition to accompany fluency.
words. Although numerals (written numbers) are 10. Experiences from childhood supply the foundation for fu-
technically symbols, the use of the word symbol ture development.
in this article refers to symbols other than nu- 11. The possibilities for expressions are infinite. (pp.
merals (e.g., signs of operation). For students 272–273)
across all grade levels, weakness in their math-
ematics ability is often due in part to the obsta- A significant factor for children in the ele-
cles they face in focusing on these symbols as mentary grades as they begin to learn the intri-
they attempt to read the “language of mathemat- cacies involved in reading their first language
ics.” Some scholars might include graphics, di- (for example, English) is that it also serves as a
agrams, and illustrations in addition to words, conduit for the language of mathematics.
numerals, and symbols, in the sense that “signs” Specifically, the skill of reading mathematics is

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related to children’s metalinguistic awareness— dergo a transformation, as there are many poly-
their ability to reflect on and analyze a language. gons with all equal sides. These regular polygons
MacGregor and Price (1999) suggested include pentagons, octagons, and nonagons. A
student might later say that a square is a four-
metalinguistic awareness enables the language user to reflect
on the structural and functional features of text as an object, to
sided shape with all equal sides. This, too, will
make choices about how to communicate information, and to eventually undergo transformation, as a rhombus
manipulate perceived units of language.… [A]nalyzing struc- is a four-sided shape with all equal sides, but not
ture, making choices about representation, and manipulating all rhombi are squares. These informal defini-
expressions are intrinsic to mathematics. (p. 452) tions help children construct their own under-
standings, and these are the definitions students
Hence, when we pass up opportunities to focus might use when reading an instruction such as
children’s attention on mathematics as a lan- “Draw a square.” On the other hand, a major
guage and not just as something we do, children learning objective in mathematics is for students
may miss the underlying concepts of mathemat- to demonstrate understanding of formal defini-
ics that would enhance and reinforce their un- tions. For example, “a square is a rectangle with
derstanding. all equal sides” or “a square is a quadrilateral
The purpose of this article is to provide im- with all 90-degree angles and all equal sides.” A
petus for teaching children to read mathematics. student’s ability to recognize and employ the for-
This entails reading words, numerals, and sym- mal definition is key to understanding and ap-
bols to successfully uncover the messages of and plying concepts when reading mathematical text.
about mathematics. Furthermore, the perspective One way to help students develop defini-
of mathematics as a language is supported by the tions in mathematics is to ask them to examine
order governing the discipline. I provide a vari- examples that do or do not fit the definition of a
ety of examples related to reading mathematics concept to discern differences that might lead to
through words, numerals, and symbols and also a formal definition (see the Figure). It is helpful
suggestions that transcend particular mathemat- for students to know a formal definition of poly-
ics topics and are applicable across grade levels. gon when asked to respond to the following: “Is
a circle a polygon? Explain.” A student not em-
powered by a formal definition might respond
Reading words in mathematics with, “No. Because squares are polygons and
Each discipline has its own code of commu- circles are not squares.” Though the explanation
nication, the particular terminology that is used is true, the student has only a limited under-
to communicate ideas within the discipline. standing of polygons. A formal definition for
These are the words that carry meanings that polygon provides a justification that accounts for
may or may not make sense outside of the disci- all polygons, not just squares. Definitions,
pline. The words, terminology, and vocabulary whether informal or formal, enable students to
used in mathematics are key factors in the com- appropriately apply the mathematics vocabulary
munication process. The following sections ex- they encounter when reading mathematics. The
plore a variety of factors related to reading model presented in the Figure can be used for
words in mathematics. very simple concepts appropriate for the ele-
mentary grades as well as more complex con-
Definitions cepts found in middle or high school
In order to make communication clearer mathematics (e.g., function graphs).
when reading words in mathematics, the reader
has to develop meaningful, correct, and applica- Multiple meanings
ble definitions of mathematical terminology. In Another issue in reading mathematics is
mathematics, it is acceptable for students to use mathematics vocabulary that has multiple mean-
informal definitions as an introduction to for- ings. Consider the examples listed in Table 1.
mal definitions. For example, a child may ini- These are just a few words that are used in math-
tially define square as a shape with all equal ematics that also have meaning in everyday con-
sides. While at the outset this is beneficial for the texts and interactions. The importance of
child, it is a definition that will by necessity un- attending to the presence of multiple meanings is

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Developing definitions

These are polygons. These are not polygons. What are polygons?
Draw examples of polygons.

supported by the fact that “the pre-adolescent When students are challenged by words with
child has multiple meanings for words used in multiple meanings, it is helpful to make connec-
the interactions and is comfortable with moving tions between children’s prior understandings
between meanings even in the same interaction” of the word and the mathematical meaning of the
(Berenson, 1997, p. 4). It is important to know word so that children can develop definitions
which meaning of a word students are using from their own experiences (Berenson, 1997).
when trying to make sense of mathematics be- For example, one everyday meaning of the word
cause words used in everyday language may base means the place a baseball player runs or
confuse their understanding of mathematics walks to when the player has hit the ball. In an
(MacGregor, 2002). everyday context, base also refers to the bottom

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Table 1
Multiple meanings

Word Mathematical meaning Everyday meaning

Volume Amount of space taken up by an object Noise level of electronic equipment
Graduated Marked with degrees of measurement Received an academic degree
Product Result of multiplying numbers Items produced by a company
Net A two-dimensional pattern for a A finely meshed hair covering
three-dimensional object
Ruler Tool for measuring length Person in authority
Plot To locate and make a point on a grid Place to build a house
Yard Three feet Grassy area around a house
Mass Amount of matter in an object A church service
Cubed Raised to the third power Form for a piece of steak
Count To enumerate To rely or depend on
Face Flat surface on a solid The front of something
Fair Equal chance of happening A temporary amusement park
Range Numerical difference between two values Cooking equipment (stove)

of an object such as a statue, mountain, or lamp. spellings. “Vocabulary in the mathematics class-
In mathematics, base means the perceived hori- room not only includes specialized terms such as
zontal side on which a plane figure rests or a quotient, multiplication, divisor, denominator,
number equal to the number of units in a given minuend, and subtraction but also everyday
number system required to move one group of terms that take on new meaning when used in a
values to the next highest place, such as the base- mathematical context” (Mather & Chiodo, 1994,
10 number system. Hence, for a child who pre- p. 2). Consider Tables 2 and 3. These are words
sents a baseball understanding of the word base, that may interfere with comprehension of what
a connection between the everyday meaning of students read, or understand when read to, in the
base and one mathematical meaning can be classroom. Without thought to the mathematical
made as follows: When a baseball player waits context, students may attach the incorrect mean-
for play to resume, he or she stays or rests at the ing to the word if they confuse it with its
base. So baseball players and mathematical homonymic partner or partners. Drawing stu-
shapes both rest on bases at given times. In ad- dents’ attention to the fact that there are words
dition, there is a condition that must be met be- in mathematics that sound like everyday words
fore the player moves from one base to another. is one way to deal with this issue. One sugges-
Likewise, in the base-10 number system, a con- tion is to design a homonymic bulletin board or
dition must be met (must have a group of 10) list of homophones and similar-sounding words
before one can move from one place to the next for students to add to as they study. In addition,
place. The goal of any connection should be to journal writing prompts can be developed to
develop opportunities for students to strengthen learn how students perceive specific words that
their understanding of mathematics terminology have homophonic or sound-alike partners. For
and concepts. example, a prompt for the word altitude might
read, “If I were to compare two triangles by their
Homophones and similar-sounding words altitude, I would....”
Another challenge of reading mathematics
involves homophones—words with identical Reading passages
pronunciations—and similar-sounding words. In As students advance through the elementary
each category, though pronounced alike, these grades, they need increased opportunities to read
words may have different meanings and mathematics in textual and often abstract form.

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Table 2 Box lid Ruler Protractor Book Ink pen

Homophones (exact pronunciation) Compass ID card Soda can File folder

Mathematics word Everyday word 2. Can a straightedge be used to construct an angle? If so,
Plane Plain
One Won 3. If more than two points are given (say three points) and
one can still construct a line, ray, or segment using the
Whole Hole
three points, what must be true?
Sum Some
Two To 4. What is the difference between constructing and drawing?
Weight Wait 5. Construct a square using only a straightedge and/or com-
Weigh Way pass according to the passage.
Eight Ate
Symbol Cymbal To address students’ difficulties with math-
Hour Our
ematics vocabulary such as that found in the pre-
vious passage, instructional strategies modified
Cent Scent or sent
from those presented by Garbe (1985) include
Real Reel
the following:
Gram Graham
Chord Cord 1. Establish a list of mathematics vocabulary for each such
subject area (e.g., geometry).
2. Evaluate students’ comprehension of mathematics vocabu-
lary on a periodic basis (e.g., end of a passage, lesson, or
These opportunities will be beneficial for stu-
dents when they are confronted with mathemat- 3. Make inquiries into students’ previous knowledge or
usages of mathematics vocabulary before it is introduced in
ics in middle school. Consider the following
instruction (e.g., straightedge) and use this knowledge to
passage from a middle school mathematics text: help students develop meanings.
The only instruments used for construction in geometry are a 4. Frame the context for new mathematics vocabulary (e.g.,
straightedge and a compass. A straightedge is used to con- “Construct is not limited to three dimensions”).
struct a line, ray, or segment when two points are given. The
5. Develop an environment where mathematics vocabulary is
straightedge’s marks may not be used for measurement. A
a normal part of instruction, curriculum, and assessment—
compass is used to construct an arc or a circle, given a cen-
not an add-on.
ter point and a radius length. (Kalin & Corbitt, 1993, p. 396)
Two additional suggestions I would make are as
Students must be able to recognize the individual follows:
concepts as well as the relationships between the
concepts in order to obtain full meaning from the 6. For particular passages, instruct students to indicate the vo-
cabulary they do not understand and collaborate in small
passage. The density of the mathematics vocab-
groups to discuss these terms and share their understand-
ulary (e.g., line, ray, segment, arc, radius) adds ings of other terms. After the small-group engagement, ad-
to the complexity of the passage. With mathe- dress any remaining vocabulary as a whole class.
matics as with other disciplines, students are ex-
pected to integrate their linguistic, cognitive, and 7. When students’ efforts at acquiring meanings and under-
metacognitive skills to comprehend text (Mather standings have been exhausted, provide them an opportu-
nity to employ a mathematics dictionary, a useful tool for
& Chiodo, 1994). However, Garbe (1985) stat-
the classroom.
ed “perhaps we do not spend enough time teach-
ing the vocabulary necessary for students to read
and understand mathematics” (p. 39). Following Word problems
are examples that can be used to examine stu- Word problems are mathematical problems
dents’ understanding of the passage: presented in the context of a story or real-life
1. Consider the list below. Which items can or cannot be used scenario. Because the mathematical nature of the
as a straightedge? Explain. problem may not be obvious to the reader, the

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reader has to have some skill at decoding text In addition, looking back lets students engage
so that the information needed to solve the prob- in discussions about the problem-solving
lem or answer the question can be gathered. process to further enhance their reasoning skills
Students need opportunities to read word prob- and abilities to explain and justify solutions. The
lems and examine them for necessary, extrane- look back phase also stimulates additional in-
ous, or missing information so they can develop struction by incorporating extension problems
their skills for solving word problems. George and requests for students to solve the problem
Polya, commonly known as the “father of prob- in a different way. This approach to problem
lem solving” (1945) is noted for his four-step solving “makes use of the diversity of approach-
problem-solving process as follows: es to the problem in order to give students expe-
1. Read the problem. This first phase in- riences in finding or discovering new things by
volves the student reading the problem in its en- combining all the knowledge, skills, and mathe-
tirety without focusing on such things as key matical ways of thinking they have previously
words and the question(s). In many instances, learned” (Sawada, 1997, p. 23). There are many
students target the key words and question(s) of other models for providing guidance for stu-
a problem without actually reading the problem, dents’ problem-solving experiences. For an ad-
often missing or skipping important information. ditional example that uses a graphic organizer
2. Understand the problem. In this second approach, see Braselton and Decker (1994).
phase, the student should attend to vocabulary,
context/setting, question(s) of the problem, Reading numerals in context
needed information, and extraneous informa- When reading mathematics, students must be
tion. This phase should leave the student under- able to read numerals in context. Often the con-
standing the problem. Questions such as “Do texts are embedded, and by reading the numerals
you know what this problem is asking?” and with or without any additional symbols, the
“Can you restate the problem in your own meanings of the numerals are apparent. Students
words?” are typical questions to pose to students simply need examples and experiences that use
or for students to pose to themselves. In many in- these socially accepted numeral formats so that
stances, students may have to return to the first when they read mathematics in which these types
process, reading the problem, in order to sup- of numerals are used, they will be familiar with
port this second process. the embedded context. Consider the examples in
3. Solve the problem. Students must select Table 4. These examples are not meant to indi-
and use appropriate strategies to respond to the cate that the meanings for these numerals will
problem. These strategies may be student- always be obvious and apparent, but these are
created or introduced by the teacher. In either mere examples of how numerals and their struc-
case, there are myriad strategies that students can ture have roles in everyday communication.
rely on to solve problems (e.g., use trial and er- Perhaps the most obvious way to direct stu-
ror; look for patterns; make a model; eliminate dents’ attention to numerals in context is to ex-
possibilities; use simpler numbers; make a table, amine numerals within their contexts. I ask my
chart, or diagram; draw a picture; work back-
ward; estimate). For a more detailed discussion
on specific strategies see Dolan and Williamson Table 3
(1983) and Meyer and Sallee (1983). Again, the Sound-alike words
student may need to return to either of the first
two phases to be successful in this phase. Mathematics word Everyday sound-alike word
4. Look back. In the traditional sense, a Quart Court
problem-solving process is complete when the Altitude Attitude
solution is obtained. However, looking back pro- Sphere Spear
vides an opportunity to check the validity and Tenths Tents
accuracy of the solution. By viewing the solution
Half Have
in the context of the problem, students can find
Cents Sense
errors in understanding the problem, the proce-
dures, or even in the recording of the solution.

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Table 4 As words are used differently in different

Embedded contexts spoken languages, symbols are used differently
as well (Hirigoyen, 1997). For example, in coun-
Numerals Embedded context tries around the world, the comma (e.g., 236,69)
123-45-6789 Social security number or a raised dot (e.g., 236.69) is used to separate
08-17-01 or 08/17/01 Date a whole number and a fractional part, whereas
352-555-1212 Phone number in the English language, we use a decimal point
32601-7049 Zip code to make this indication (e.g., 236.69). This is just
1.599 Gas price
one example that reflects the need to acquire in-
formation about students’ prior knowledge of
mathematics, particularly for those whose first
language is not English and who may not rec-
students to work in groups to write on a large ognize the different ways mathematical symbols
piece of paper all of the numbers each has used are used within that context.
that day. If there are standard contextual symbols Three simple instructional activities that
such as dollar signs and weight abbreviations, support students’ learning of mathematical sym-
they may include those signs and abbreviations. bols are modifications of two games. For the
Then I introduce number contexts to the students first, write as many symbols as desired, depend-
(see Table 5) and ask the students to classify all ing on the grade level, on index cards. Write the
of their numbers into the various contexts. They symbol words on other index cards and then pro-
have to discuss and justify their classifications ceed to play matching games or draw cards to
and consider other examples of numbers that get a pair. This works very well to help students
they may not have initially listed. This helps stu- learn symbol names.
dents to recognize numbers and their uses in In another activity using either symbols or
their own environments, and I use this experi- words for symbols, students draw one card from
ence to guide their recognition of numbers and the deck of index cards. The card is won only if
the student can create a “mathematical sentence”
their uses in the context of mathematics.
that includes the symbol. For example, if a stu-
dent draws absolute value, the student can win
Reading symbols in context the card by writing or saying “The absolute val-
Symbols have important roles in mathemat- ue of negative two is two.”
ics, and the reader must be able to decipher them A third activity can be made on other index
when reading mathematics. Symbols are used cards by writing various numerals on them that
to indicate an operation to be performed, such are appropriate for the specific grade level.
as in 45  6 = ? The “” is a standard symbol Combine the numerals and symbols into one
that, in this context, indicates one should per- deck and allow students to draw five cards to
form the operation of multiplication. Symbols start the game. As students draw individual cards
communicate meaning and messages. Consider from the deck, the goal is for the student to be
this example: #8. The “#” symbol communicates able to use the numerals and symbols to make a
that the focus might be on a list and the eighth mathematical expression to which they must
item on the list is to be noticed. Symbols also know the answer in order to win the cards.
provide organization and management. In the
expression (4  (2+3))3, the first operation to be Approaching the abstract
performed is the addition within the internal Without a context, students must, at a mini-
parentheses, followed by the multiplication of mum, be familiar with various aspects of number
four with this sum and then the raising of this theory. To be equipped to read numerals, stu-
product to the third power. The parentheses in- dents must first know basic number words (e.g.,
form the reader how the expression is to be han- one, two, ten, hundred) and have an understand-
dled. Students must be able to decipher the ing of place value. Consider the numeral
meanings of symbols in order to effectively read 4,327,785,650,409. As a stand-alone numeral
mathematics. without a context, at the very least, it can be

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Table 5
Numerals in contexts

Context Example
Cardinal (quantity, measurement) 2 (I ate two pancakes for breakfast.)
Nominal 3342 (The serial number on the pan is 3342.)
Ordinal 4th (John won 4th place in the shot-put contest.)
Rational 1, 2, 3,… (I heard my niece counting 1, 2, 3,…today.)
Sequence pattern 6, 7, 6, 7, 6,… (The pattern for the beat was 6, 7, 6, 7, 6….)

recognized by its magnitude as one examines its (e.g., seats). From this point, a successful solu-
place-value characteristics. For example, it has tion strategy is to represent the word problem
five place-value periods (e.g., 785 is in the mil- by mathematical symbols (including numerals).
lions period). The digit 8 is in the 10 millions Students also need to see the interaction of
place and has a value of 80 million. The numer- words (the word problem itself), numerals, and
al can also be analyzed by number-theory clas- symbols as a necessary process in mathematics.
sifications like odd, even, positive, negative, In fact, students should have experiences in
prime, and divisibility by other numbers. When translating from either representation to the oth-
reading mathematics and encountering numerals er two to support their conceptual understand-
in the abstract, students need to recognize im- ings. The totality of the mathematical message is
portant characteristics. often embedded in the context of this three-way
relationship. I liken it to this phrase: “Words tell.
Relationships between words, Numerals listen. Symbols show.” Words, explic-
itly or implicitly, tell the reader what is to be
numerals, and symbols known and done. The reader’s response to nu-
Reading mathematics requires that students merals is guided by what the words tell. Symbols
navigate the relationship(s) between words, nu- are efficient means of showing what the words
merals, and symbols. This is exemplified by say and how the numerals are to be responded
word problems, such as the following. to according to the words. In the case of word
Mr. Johns and Mr. Sams are taking their classes on a field trip problems, if there is a breakdown at any junction
to the Ocean View Aquarium. There are a total of 57 children in of the interaction, there is an increased chance of
the two classes. The teachers need to request buses for the students having difficulty succeeding with the
trip. Each bus seats 25 persons. How many buses should Mr. mathematics.
Johnson and Mr. Sams request?
Mathematics is a language of order
First of all, students need to be made aware Mathematics is a language of order, and
that they should attend to the relationship be- reading mathematics requires that one pay at-
tween words, numerals, and symbols. This may tention to several principles that guide how the
not be automatically apparent to all students. reading must take place if accurate interpreta-
Once they recognize that this is something that tion, comprehension, and communication are to
improves their reading of mathematics, they will result.
be more likely to do so.
Students also have to be encouraged to see Principle 1
“sense making” as an important part of reading Mathematical operations are performed
information presented in the word problem. This within a binary framework between only two
sense making is dependent on students’ compre- numbers at a time. For example, when students
hension of some mathematical terminology are reading a string or list of numerals to be
(e.g., total) as well as on general terminology added, remembering that only two numbers can

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be added at a time decreases anxiety and makes The National Council of Teachers of
the task seem easier. Mathematics posited that knowing mathematics
is doing mathematics (1989). In other words, to
Principle 2 know mathematics means that one is able to ap-
The order in which operations are written or ply mathematics. With this philosophy one can
read is not necessarily the order in which they pair the position that doing mathematics necessi-
are performed. We read mathematics from left to tates reading mathematics. The words, symbols,
right, right to left, top to bottom, and bottom to and numerals that give the discipline its sub-
top (e.g., vertical multiplication, long division). stance, framework, and power are the same
Consider this simple exercise: 3  (5 + 2) = ? words, symbols, and numerals that students must
One might read it initially from left to right, but use to communicate ideas, perform procedures,
the nature of the exercise requires that the oper- explain processes, and solve problems. Hence a
ations be performed from right to left, that is, 5 + knower of mathematics is a doer of mathematics,
2 must be completed first. However, the follow- and a doer of mathematics is a reader of mathe-
ing exercise might be read and performed from matics.
top to bottom or bottom to top:
 64 Adams teaches at the University of Florida (School of
Teaching & Learning, 2403 Norman Hall, Box 117048,
Principle 3 Gainesville, FL 32611-7048, USA). She may be contacted by
There is order in mathematical language, e-mail at tla@coe.ufl.edu.
and it is well grounded in concept, theory, and
procedure, but there are still variations and
changes in content, style, and representation References
over time. For example, as I read a newspaper Berenson, S.B. (1997). Language, diversity, and assessment in
several months ago, I noticed that the new phone mathematics learning. Focus on Learning Problems in
Mathematics, 19(4), 1–9.
number for a local hospital was 265.0111. I did- Berghoff, B. (1998). Multiple sign systems and reading. The
n’t realize that the hospital had adopted a new Reading Teacher, 51, 520–523.
format for its telephone number. On first glance, Braselton, S., & Decker, B.C. (1994). Using graphic organizers to
it simply looked like a decimal numeral, but the improve the reading of mathematics. The Reading Teacher,
48, 276–281.
context required it to be comprehended as a tele- Dolan, D.T., & Williamson, J. (1983). Teaching problem-
phone number. On a drive on a major street in solving strategies. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.
the city, I noticed that prices were displayed in Garbe, D.G. (1985). Mathematics vocabulary and the culturally
the format of $1.599 at one gas station and in the different student. Arithmetic Teacher, 33, 39–42.
Hirigoyen, H. (1997). Dialectal variations in the language of
format of $1.599/10 at another. These are just two mathematics: A source of multicultural experiences. In
examples of how formats and presentation of J. Trentacosta & M.J. Kenney (Eds.), 1997 National Council
numbers can change and vary with the trends of of Teachers of Mathematics yearbook (pp. 164–173). Reston,
VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
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NJ: Prentice Hall.
Doing mathematics is reading MacGregor, M. (2002). Using words to explain mathematical
ideas. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 25(1),
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Reading mathematics can be interesting if MacGregor, M., & Price, E. (1999). An exploration of aspects
of language proficiency and algebra learning. Journal of
readers are committed to learning. It is para- Research in Mathematics Education, 30, 449–467.
mount that learners develop a purpose for com- Mather, J.R.C., & Chiodo, J.J. (1994). A mathematical problem:
municating mathematically through words, How do we teach mathematics to LEP elementary students?
The Journal of Educational Issues of Language Minority
symbols, and numerals. Instruction that helps Students, 13, 1–12.
learners view mathematics as a tool for solving Meyer, C., & Sallee, T. (1983). Make it simpler: A practical
problems, participating in recreation and other guide to problem solving in mathematics. Menlo Park, CA:
pleasurable activities, and making sense of the Addison-Wesley.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (1989).
world as the learner sees it is instruction that mo- Curriculum and evaluation standards for school mathematics.
tivates students to read mathematics. Reston,VA: Author.

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