Math and English for Academic Purposes


  • Melissa Stamer-Peterson



Even though math is thought to be mostly numbers, there is a significant amount of language involved. Students do not have to know only the discipline-specific vocabulary, or jargon, associated with math, but they also have to understand other forms of language in and out of the classroom. For example, instructors will work problems out on the board while discussing the steps orally to go from one part of the problem to the next which may not align with what the teacher is writing on the board, so there is potentially a loss of comprehension on the student’s part. Additionally, instructors will give instructions in class or give information on specific dates for exams, quizzes and homework which is sometimes given orally or written on the board. Asking questions during class and following transitions between activities can be another challenge for second language learners who struggle with language in a math class. Another aspect of language present in a math course is in the textbook. Students will often be assigned chapters or sections to read in order to prepare for an upcoming class. The textbook is written using the disciplinary language of math, which makes it difficult to follow especially because definitions of math words are often defined with other math jargon. With such rich language and classroom interaction, it is imperative to not overlook the subject of math when discussing English for Academic Purposes.


Metrics Loading ...




How to Cite

Stamer-Peterson, M. (2018). Math and English for Academic Purposes. Issues in Language Instruction, 6(1), 6–12.