What I can think of a typical Math classroom is where you can find multiplication tables written on one wall and some unit conversation on another and students talking in the symbolic language of mathematics.

Have you ever reflected on language taught in Math class? Ahh! I know that there is a separate Language class but I primarily want to talk about Language taught in Math class. For example, what comes to your mind when I ask meaning of a word ‘change’? Covert, replace, different, alter, adjust or something similar, right? But in a Math class change is ‘leftover money’ and we expect a small child to understand this meaning in Math class while outside it may be used for something completely different.

Marion Meiers has researched on this topic (you can find the complete paper here) . He suggests that teachers should lay emphasis on ambiguous words that have different meaning between the contexts, homophonic words that sound like other very common words, usage of same words/Phrases in different context and different words used for one operation.


Ha ha! There are many other words just like this one, which can lead to confusion in a child’s mind.

For example,


Odd is strange in everyday use and angle is point of view. It is important for a teacher to be aware of   words and encourage students to participate in mathematical discussion which allows teachers to interpret whether students are making appropriate conceptual connections between words and mathematical meanings or not. Make you own list of words and share in comments. J


By Janvi Soni – Educational Specialist

(Member of Large Scale Assessment Team)

Janvi Soni

Janvi Soni

I am an Educational Specialist working mainly on analysis and data interpretation forLarge Scale Assessment, Educational Initiatives. What interests me most is to ensure quality education to all in the society and to use data to enable it. Love food, travelling and can't really write exquisitely!
Janvi Soni

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