Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Maths - the Gift of Language: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Maths - the Gift of Language: Resources

Article excerpt

Improve maths and English with a dash of Spanish.

"El doble de veinte es cuarenta. Que es el doble de veinticinco?" ("Twice 20 is 40. What is 25 times two?") The quiet boy at the back pricks up his ears. He consults the numbers on his special Spanish ruler and, after only a brief hesitation, puts up his hand to answer. You can almost see him thinking: "This is not maths, it's Spanish." He rarely volunteers, but the introduction of Spanish into the equation renews his energy. Another half hour of arithmetic no longer seems a chore.

Spanish likewise inspires confidence in children baffled by the inconsistencies of English, who find motivation in the simplicity of its spelling. They see their own language in a new light, connecting superficially unrelated words such as "adios" and "goodbye" or "lunes" and "Monday"; all the better if this process also encompasses French, Italian, Latin and German.

Other languages get you thinking about different ways of describing the world and different points of view. Each offers its own philosophical gift. Japanese simply distinguishes between past and non-past tenses and virtually dispenses with plural nouns altogether. Spanish, with the subtle expressive differences between its two verbs for "to be", suggests that Hamlet's dilemma is hopelessly reductive: learning about ser and estar changes the way you see things forever. Learning a language is a liberating game. It frees us from fixed patterns of speech and fixed patterns of thought, shakes things up and inspires the imagination in a similar way to nonsense verse. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.