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# Why Not Teach Math Like English?

When teaching English and especially spelling, we teach students the rules and patterns when certain letters are found together such as silent e makes the vowel in the middle of a word sound long.

• rat          rate
• not         note
• cod         code

Then we teach exceptions such as have and blue.

Why not teach math the same way?  When kindergarteners are learning their numbers many times they skip over or jumble the numbers between 14 and 16.  Could this be because they don’t understand our system for naming numbers.  Why not teach students the rules for naming numbers and then the exceptions.

• -teen means a ten and some more toward making a second ten.
• -ty means more than one group of ten

Four-teen means 4 and 10.  Fifteen means 5 and 10 and so on.  Then we teach students that numbers such as 11 and twelve are exceptions, and thir- teen means 3 and 10.  Thir- almost sounds like three so it is not as unusual as eleven or twelve.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that in English our tens and ones are backwards .  The four and teen makes students want to write the number as 41 because they hear the four first and then the ten.  In many other languages however the language follows the way the number is written so that it would sound like a group of ten and four when reading 14.

This example about learning number names can apply to kindergarteners, however we can help students understand the rule first and then teach the exceptions with many other math concepts.

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