Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Language Skills Are the Precursors of Math Skills

February 28, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

As a linguist and teacher for more than 25 years, I am concerned by the policies being applied to improve reading and math education in the United States (“White House Suggests Model Used in Reading to Elevate Math Skills,” Feb. 15, 2006).

It is true that phonics instruction, which stresses the relationships between sounds and letters, is the appropriate strategy to teach reading. But phonics is not just a mechanical tool to be learned by kids. There is much more than simply decoding to be considered under this strategy.

The development of linguistic skills is a highly delicate task, since the development of the brain’s left hemisphere—an area that controls analytic thought, logic, segmentation, symbolism, and so on—depends on how well our first language was learned.

All of the skills necessary for the development of facility with language—analysis, logic, symbolism, and so on—are also needed for understanding math. As a result, a poor linguistic development will inevitably lead to a poor math development. Linguists and bilingual experts have long considered math another language; in learning a second language, we need our first language firmly in place.

Arturo Celis

Armenia, Colombia

A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2006 edition of Education Week as Language Skills Are the Precursors of Math Skills

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
Professional Wellness Strategies to Enhance Student Learning and Live Your Best Life
Reduce educator burnout with research-affirmed daily routines and strategies that enhance achievement of educators and students alike. 
Content provided by Solution Tree
English-Language Learners Webinar The Science of Reading and Multilingual Learners: What Educators Need to Know
Join experts in reading science and multilingual literacy to discuss what the latest research means for multilingual learners in classrooms adopting a science of reading-based approach.
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 15, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 8, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 1, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 11, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read