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The Mathspeak project is a partnership between European educational practitioners and the creators of educational materials. Funded by the European Commission, this project provides free learning materials that teachers can use to help non-native language students succeed at maths.

Screenshot:

Mathspeak platform home page

What Mathspeak provides

Mathspeak platform home page in Italian

Mathspeak is a foreign language learning resource for secondary school students. It is a course in ten units on the language of mathematics. Mathspeak enables students to perform mathematics in a foreign language at the same level they do in their native language.

sample image from Unit 1 of Mathspeak

Mathspeak enables students to:

  • verbally express mathematical concepts appropriate to their age groups,
  • make sense of mathematics when it is both spoken and written,
  • put number problems into words, and
  • handle mathematical terminology with confidence.

Mathspeak is available in:

  • English
  • Bulgarian
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Romanian

Any school in the European Union can download and use the free educational materials that have been developed.

Templates are available if you wanted to translate the materials into another language.

Why this project is needed

Mathspeak demo - module 1 screenshot

Because mathematics is usually communicated in symbols, you might think it doesn’t require a lot of language skills.

When students study mathematics in a foreign language, the language itself adds layers of difficulty to something that is already abstract and opaque. Research shows that students don’t perform at mathematics as well as they could.

You may be able to write sums in symbols, but you need words and grammar to speak them and understand them when they are spoken.

Benefits

Mathspeak course image Module 2 in Polish

The learning materials help tackle academic underachievement, alienation and disaffection, which can lead to students leaving school at an early age. For more information, see Mathspeak: The expected outcomes.

Who this affects

Mathspeak demo module 1 - screen 3

Our target groups are students at intermediate and pre-intermediate levels of competence in a foreign language. They are in Years 8-12 at high school, or in further education.

They are either:

  • Immigrants
  • International students in foreign language speaking institutions
  • Students in a country or institution where the language of maths instruction is not the mother tongue, or
  • Students in their home countries learning a foreign language. For example, the materials could be used in English (as a second) language lessons.

Timescales

Mathspeak logo

This two-year project started in October 2018. It will be completed in March  2021.

How the project is funded

Erasmus logo

The project has been awarded a grant under the 2018 Erasmus+ Key Action 201 Strategic Partnerships project.