Math Language

In math, students must build a shared understanding of mathematical terms to successfully share and refine their ideas. This can be challenging, because students must learn new words and symbols that are unique to math, as well as precise new meanings for words they are already familiar with. All students can benefit from differentiated instruction when learning terms and symbols. Struggling students may need more support and practice to gain confidence in their use of language.

View an Introductory Presentation on Math Language Strategies

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Read the Complete Math Language Teaching Strategy Guide

Math requires students to understand new terminology because common words and phrases can have math-specific meanings. Many words (such as “plus” and “equals”) are so common and important that we use symbols rather than words. Teaching precise mathematical language will help your students to think more carefully about their ideas and the ideas of their peers. The strategies below provide a strong foundation for differentiating instruction.


  1. Provide Clear Explanations
  2. Give Students Strategies and Models
  3. Provide Ongoing Formative Assessment