Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Math Word Problems in an ESL Classroom

As a statistical instructor in Japan, I face the same issue day in day out. My students cannot do statistical term issues. They simply don't understand them. And I am not referring to those 2, 3 students that would even correct their instructor, no I am referring to a lot of my students.

Word issues are the heart of my subject; they give significance to the figures and connect with our everyday life methods. 2 times 2 doesn't mean anything, but 2 celery of 2 dollars each does! Math and conceptualization walk side in side.

Most of the instructors at my university seem to be envious with me because training statistical is expected to be so simple to show in our ESL setting. Math is simple because it's all about the figures, and those are worldwide. True, but this reaction looks over the reflection, or understanding, of figures. Math is all about fixing issues and needs educational reading abilities.

Our university is a modest university in Thailand and like many educational institutions in this wonderful country the value of British as a worldwide terminology is recognized. EP educational institutions, or British Programs, are mushrooming in all regions. For significant expenses charges, younger Thais understand all topics, except Indian of course, in British. This appears to be great in terms of development and worldwide thinking, but comes with threats.

Thai students are not smooth in British. They actually have poor British abilities. International evaluation research illustrate poor British abilities, which is not really a shock. The Indian terminology has no likeness with British and outside university, and at home, only Indian is verbal.

So how can students in Thailand understand university topics like social research, technology and statistical in British without losing the point? This is the most important query. How can instructors, university directors and mother and father expect these children to understand principles when the distribution of information is not understood?

Word issues are recognized as difficult by students. It needs students to read and evaluate issues in order to come up with the necessary technique. A fantastic example of such a issue, is a query from my 4th quality statistical book:

"The entry fee of a business display is $12.40. On Thursday 250 individuals frequented the display and on Wednesday 200 individuals more than on Thursday frequented the business display. How much money was gathered in entry charges on both days?"

As easy to understand, many of the students will battle with this issue. In past statistics, 3 steps are involved: inclusion, again inclusion and multiplication. Not possible for a 4th grader, but the greatest task is not the statistical functions, no it's the terminology used. How can any younger student connect with business exhibitions? And how many local British students can actually magic the phrase display correctly? Now imagine Indian students and the difficulty for instructors to describe this issue. So much time will be lost on describing words like business, display and visitors.

So how can we show these issues to ESL students from Thailand, or anywhere for that matter? First, throw away your book! Any publication with issues like the one above are not matched for younger students and not at all for ESL students. Second: reword your material. Use easier terminology, talk to the British instructors and use the language trained in their training.

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