This is part 2 of a 3-part series discussing the relationship between math and language, as presented by Kathleen Aiken Babineau, M.S., CCC-SLP. We have already talked about vocabulary involved in math, including symbolic, content, and academic vocabulary. Next, we will discuss research in this area.
Fletcher and Santoli (2003) reported that math vocabulary is generally not directly taught in the classroom. For instance, in their research, high school students’ math vocabulary was assessed using checklists. Results indicated that many high school students find it difficult to define simple math terms. Other research (Blessman and Myszczak, 2001) has demonstrated a relationship between reading comprehension and comprehension of math concepts. Both Blessman and Myszczak (2001) and Larson (2007) found that when students were taught strategies related to math vocabulary (discussed in part 3 of this series), students demonstrated significant improvement in math! One important point to note is that in order for a person to appreciate and understand a word meaning, it must be encountered in multiple contexts (National Reading Council, 2000). This means we must provide instruction beyond repetition and drills by including reading the word, discussing it, using it in as many different places as we can. Gifford and Fore (2008) demonstrated how vocabulary instruction can significantly improve a child’s performance. In their study, they provided academic vocabulary instruction to 7th grade students. The students demonstrated a 93% increase above adequate yearly progress in mathematics following this instruction. Our next step in this blog series will be to talk about some of these strategies- how do we provide vocabulary instruction to help the child? Stay tuned!