Reading and writing mathematics

Cultural influences on mathematics learning which can affect mathematical literacy

Mathematics is not the same all over the world. There are some differences between cultures that affects the reading and writing of mathematics. Some of these differences are:

Specific issues of language use in mathematics

Mathematics has some specific issues of language use. Some of these are:

Mathematics seen as a language in its own right

Mathematics is sometimes seen as a language in itself. For example, Wakefield (2000) argues that mathematics is a language as it has the following characteristics:

How to support mathematical literacy, including reading and writing

Kersaint et al (2013) suggests 5 principles:

Identification - characteristic behaviours

All students need support with mathematical literacy. The characteristics listed below may indicate that a student needs help to overcome barriers to reading and writing mathematics. Not all students will exhibit all these characteristics. Students may experince barriers in writing, reading or talking mathematics and/or explaining their thinking processes.

Charcteristics of students who lack of fluency in mathematical literacy can include:

Reading and writing mathematics

Much attention is given in schools to supporting learners to read and write, whether this is in mother tongue or in learning a foreign language.

Far less attention is given to support learners with reading and writing using the language of mathematics.

Not being fluent in reading and writing mathematics can have serious consequences for a learner's understanding and attainment. Lack of fluency is not necessarily related to the 'ability' of learners to do mathematics.

Reading and writing mathematics

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