As I am sure you’ve noticed (if you teach math en français), math is a special kind of challenge in the second language classroom.
In order for students to learn and understand the concepts that you are teaching, they need to have enough of a grasp of the language to know what you are talking about.
Adding lots of visuals while you are teaching helps, of course, but it isn’t always enough.
It can be exhausting for our students to understand even basic instructions in their second language, leaving little energy left over to solve the actual problem you are asking, or follow the directions to a hands-on activity.
Students might also feel too overwhelmed or intimidated to participate actively in their second language, and/or to ask questions when something is unclear.
For these reasons, I think that it is really important to start focusing on math vocabulary and “math talk” en français, right from maternelle.
Even if la communication orale isn’t something that we often think about in regards to math, I really believe that it has a very important place in our math blocks, and we should be working hard to incorporate it as much as possible!
In this blog post, I will share with you some of my favourite activities for teaching and practicing math vocabulary words both in isolation and in context, and my favourite trick to get my students speaking more often (en français!) during math time.
It is my hope that these tips will help you get your students speaking and understanding more math words than ever before!
1. WORD WALL
Most of us have a word wall for sight words, thematic vocabulary, and/or student names, but do you have a math word wall, too?
My math word wall is separate from my literacy word wall, and my students know exactly where to look if they get stuck on a word.
On my math word wall, I include visuals for all of the important words that we learn throughout the year.
I only add words to the word wall as we learn them – it is totally blank when we start in September. I show my students the visuals a few times and we practice them together before I put them up.
Even though the vast majority of my students can’t actually read any of the words, somehow the visuals on the word wall are enough to jog their memories!
I moved classrooms this year, and have windows in my room that connect to another room. I covered them over with teal contact paper (affiliate link), and have been using them for my math word wall. In my old room, I used my cupboard/closet doors.
2. CARTES DE FLUIDITÉ
In my class, we practice our math fluency cards at the beginning of every single class. We start with shapes, and then add in numbers (in a variety of ways), and also other math vocabulary.
For example, I have cards for pareil/différent, plus lourd/léger/long/court/etc. partie, entier, and lots more!
I just flash the cards, and my students say the word as quickly as they can. Sometimes we try to beat the timer, and sometimes we don’t. It always just takes 1-2 minutes, but it gives ALL of my students the opportunity to say important math words out loud.
It also helps them recall correct terminology really quickly… in the same way that you need to when asking a question or sharing your thinking.
3. MATH JOURNALS
During math journal time, I speak, and my students listen and draw/write.
I read a short math problem out loud, and they answer it in their journals.
While it’s me who is speaking most of the time during journal time, math journals help my students understand direction words as well as seasonal vocabulary in a whole new context.
We often focus a LOT on seasonal vocabulary during our literacy block, so why not add it to our math block, too??
4. MATH TALK CARDS
One of my favourite strategies, that has probably made the biggest difference to my students, are math talk cards.
You can see an example of them in action in this blog post.
We use math talk cards whenever we play a math game with a partner… which is almost every day!
I just type up a phrase that will help my students play the game into a table in PowerPoint, print them onto card stock, and laminate them so that I can reuse them from year to year.
For example, if we are playing a game where we are comparing amounts, the math talk card may say “___ est plus que ___”, and on the back, I would put “___ est moins que ___”.
Even if my students can’t read, when I give a math talk card to each group and make sure to model the correct phrase a bunch of times before sending them off to play the game, the cards really help them remember what they are supposed to say!
I hear my students speaking more French during our partner games than I ever have before using math talk cards – and they are using correct math terminology and vocabulary. Win-win!
|Since I laminate the cards, we sometimes write on them, too!|
Those are my four favourite ways to make sure that my students are learning and using as much math vocabulary as possible – but I am sure that there are lots more!
I would love to hear about ways that you get your students speaking and understanding in your math class – drop me a comment and let me know!
And, if you are a member of my Free French Resource Library, there is a freebie in there that includes everything you need for the math game Remplis la grille, including math talk cards.
And, if you aren’t a member of my Free Resource Library, yet… no problem!
You can sign up right here, and I will email you the exclusive password and access instructions, as well as a little guide to all of the freebies you will find in there (there are a ton!!!).
Just enter your name and email below, and click the pink button: