Mathspeak is a foreign language learning resource for secondary school students. It is a course in ten units on the language of mathematics. Mathspeak enables students to perform mathematics in a foreign language at the same level they do in their native language.
Funded by the European Commission, this project aims to enable students to perform mathematics in a foreign language at the same level they do in their native language.
Cherryleaf were the lead project managers, working with European educational practitioners and creators of educational materials.
What Mathspeak provides
Mathspeak enables students to:
- verbally express mathematical concepts appropriate to their age groups,
- make sense of mathematics when it is both spoken and written,
- put number problems into words, and
- handle mathematical terminology with confidence.
The ten courses enable students to perform mathematics in a foreign language at the same level they do in their native language.
The activities within the project will lead to the development of the following results:
- Mathspeak course – teaching vocabulary and language structures characteristic of maths books and maths lessons.
- Mathspeak course e-version – course accessible through the computer either to be used with teacher or by students alone
- Mathspeak teacher’s book – including ideas and guidance for teachers as how to use the course.
Why this project is needed
Because mathematics is usually communicated in symbols, you might think it doesn’t require a lot of language skills. When students study mathematics in a foreign language, the language itself adds layers of difficulty to something that is already abstract and opaque.
Research shows that students don’t perform at mathematics as well as they could.You may be able to write sums in symbols, but you need words and grammar to speak them and understand them when they are spoken.
The learning materials help tackle academic underachievement, alienation and disaffection, which can lead to students leaving school at an early age.
The benefits for students are:
- They improve both their foreign language skills and their performance in mathematics.
- As a result, their motivation will increase, and this will bring them more academic success.
- Any success will also have a positive influence on non-participating individuals in the target groups.
- The students’ improved linguistic and mathematical skills will help them when they start work or move onto tertiary level education.
Schools and teachers get:
- Free teaching materials they can use in their lessons.
- An awareness of the linguistic issues that are frequently at the heart of resistance to the mathematics.
Mathspeak contains courses on:
- Probability & Statistics
Mathspeak is available in:
Templates are available if any organisation wanted to translate the materials into another language.
Any school in the European Union and the UK can download and use the free educational materials that have been developed.
Student target age groups
Our target groups are students at intermediate and pre-intermediate levels of competence in a foreign language. They are in Years 8-12 at high school, or in further education.
They are either:
- International students in foreign language speaking institutions
- Students in a country or institution where the language of maths instruction is not the mother tongue, or
- Students in their home countries learning a foreign language. For example, the materials could be used in English (as a second) language lessons.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission
The project was awarded a grant under the 2018 Erasmus+ Key Action 201 Strategic Partnerships project.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Accessing the materials
Listen to this podcast episode
In this episode from the Mathspeak Podcast, the project team at Colegiul tehnic loan C. Ştefănescu in Iasi, Romania, discuss using the Mathspeak pilot materials:
Cherryleaf Ltd – Brighton, United Kingdom
Idris Education Limited – Luddenden, United Kingdom
Danmar Computers – Rzeszów, Poland
Viva Femina – Rzeszów, Poland
Colegiul ethnic “Ioan C. Stefanescu” – Iasi, Romania
2nd High School of Serres – Serres, Greece
Instituto Superiore E. Mattei – Fiorezuola d’Arda, Italy
PGO Ruse – Ruse, Bulgaria