What does language have to do with math?

language of math

With the new core being implemented across the country, I am hearing more often that students are struggling with math.  Why does this bother a speech language therapist?  Because math concepts are language based and that is really difficult for many of our students, particularly kids with ASD.  I had the opportunity to present at an autism workshop in my school district and heard a great behavior professional mention that many students on the spectrum think in pictures not words (Temple Grandin ring a bell?).   This, of course, got my brain humming.  How can I help with math?

I used Boardmaker to create visuals to correspond with the math concepts.  I also created a visual dictionary to give kids the visual framework that math concepts, such as subtraction, have more than one word to describe it.  Flexible thinking with language is tricky!  What does this look like?  Let’s take subtraction as an example. It can also be phrased as: take away, less, how many more, how much more, decomposing, difference, fewer.   Can you see how easy it is to get confused?  Here is the link to my free visual dictionary page:


I included a column for a visual example, a place for the student’s example and an area for notes or questions, but you can create your own and customize to your student’s needs!

I have also uploaded language of math visuals to my TPT page here for first grade core.  I will be creating and posting more grade levels throughout the next month:   http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Visuals-for-Language-of-Math-1st-grade-core-1077448

In the coming weeks, I will share more on the language of math, particularly how to help kids identify key words, sequence and be able to explain (yikes!) how they got their answers.  Graphic organizers and highlighters are going to become your new best friends.   I would love if YOU would share any tips and tricks with the new math core that help your students or children as well!


linky social

2 thoughts on “What does language have to do with math?

  1. As the mom with a high schooler on an OHI IEP who has struggled with math his entire school life, we have found graphs, note cards and highlighters worked well in the elementary and middle levels. Unfortunately, for my son, high school is an entirely different animal leaving he and I frustrated. I look forward to learning more on the connection between language and math. Thanks! Diane

  2. Thanks Diane! I wish we had study skills as a class in elementary not high school, for our kids. Try Khan Academy or purplemath.com for math support online, great resources. Disclosure: I stopped understanding math homework for my boys in 5th grade!

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