Teaching the language of mathematics: What the research tells us teachers need to know and do

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29 Scopus citations


The focus of this paper is on what research suggests primary school teachers need to know about the specialized language of mathematics teaching and learning: the mathematics register. When teachers act effectively on this knowledge, students have multiple opportunities to construct mathematical understandings and to demonstrate what they know in the variety of tasks that are required by formal schooling. First, the national and policy context within which mathematics is taught and learned is considered. Secondly, the mathematics register is defined, followed by a consideration the significance for teaching, learning, and assessment in school; examples are provided. The educational implications of these analyses include guidelines for what teachers need to know and to do, so that their students appropriately utilize the mathematics register in the classroom. In so doing, students are provided with optimal circumstances to learn, where they may deploy all of their cognitive-linguistic resources to the particular mathematics tasks at hand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-174
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Mathematical Behavior
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Language and assessment
  • Language and mathematics
  • Mathematics register
  • Problem-solving
  • Teachers’ professional development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Applied Mathematics


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