Math PK-2

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Math PK-2 > Strategies > Accessible Vocabulary & Syntax

Accessible Vocabulary & Syntax


Teachers support language development by using and providing vocabulary and syntax that is appropriately leveled (e.g. using short, simple sentences for young students). When teachers incorporate challenging but accessible math words in their daily instruction, they create a contextual environment for students to practice, apply, and grow their Language Skills. Knowledge of mathematical vocabulary is specifically linked to success with word problem solving and is especially valuable for students whose Primary Language is not English.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this first grade teacher models vocabulary in her instruction in addition to using an interactive word wall. By slowing her speech and adding hand gestures, she highlights complex vocabulary and provides the opportunity for students to try to incorporate them into their own language.

  • Teachers can display math words in the classroom and actively refer to them when they are used in context by both the teacher and students. This reference point supports students' Short-term Memory and facilitates the transition of these words into students' Long-term Memory and daily speech. As students are learning this new vocabulary, teachers can also simplify their syntax to relieve students' cognitive load in Working Memory.
  • Design It into Your Product

  • Products can provide adaptive language that adjusts to the appropriate vocabulary and syntax complexity that can be read and understood by learners. They can also introduce features for learners to practice target math words and grow their Language Skills.
  • Resources

    Below are additional examples, research, and professional development. These resources are possible representations of this strategy, not endorsements.

    Factors Supported by this Strategy