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Fractions, Decimals, Percentages and... World Languages

 

FRACTIONS, DECIMALS, PERCENTAGES AND… WORLD LANGUAGES

This is an activity I thought of while doing my teacher training.  After I demonstrated it to my PGCE Mathematics class at University many training teachers actually tried it in the schools they were training in.  They told me their students loved it and that it was a great cross-curricular activity that provided a new way to help students understand how fractions, decimals and percentages are just different ways of expressing the same value.  I have used this activity several times and continue to use it because of its effectiveness.  So what is this activity?

Simply count from 1 to 10 in different languages.  You could ask students to repeat each number after you as a class.  You could ask if anyone wants to lead counting in a language they know or are studying.  You could write or project a list on the board so students can see the different languages as well.  This could include the actual script of the language as well as how to pronounce it.  You could even make a PowerPoint Presentation.  Depending on the nature of the school and class, facilities at the school and your own style as a teacher you can adapt the activity to what you feel is best.  The activity can be used as a Starter or Plenary of a lesson in school as well as while giving tuition.

At the end of the activity write some equivalent fractions, decimals and percentages on the board and ask students if they can see the link between the activity you all just did and what is written on the board.  You may be surprised at how intuitive some students can be.  Just as the various languages are different ways of expressing the same meaning, fractions, percentages and decimals are also different ways of expressing the same meaning.  Even though the value is the same, the different forms of expression are used in different situations.

To find out how to count in different languages you could ask other people you know who speak more than one language, including colleagues and students in the class.  Some people may be shy but in my experience most are happy to share the knowledge.  If searching on the Internet, checking a few different websites to make sure what is found is reliable may be a good idea.  I found that repeatedly listening and imitating was a good way to learn how to pronounce the words.  YouTube is a great resource for this.  After doing a quick search I found so many languages from all over the world.  There is even a video for counting using sign-language.

 

English

French

Hindi

Spanish

Japanese

German

Malayalam

Greek

Arabic

Polish

Tamil

Russian

1

One

Un

Ek

Uno

Uch

Ein

Onnu

Aena

Wahid

Yeden

Ondru

Odin (ruz)

2

Two

Deux

Do

Dos

Ni

Swy

Randu

Deeo

Ithnain

Dva

Irandu

Dva

3

Three

Trois

Theen

Tres

San

Dry

Moonu

Treea

Thalaatha

Checheu

Moondru

Tree

4

Four

Katre

Char

Quatro

Shi

Fear

Naalu

Tessera

Arba'a

Chtere

Naalu

Chithria

5

Five

Sanc

Panch

Cinqo

Go

Fumph

Anchu

Pente

Khamsa

Piench

Anchu

Pyet

6

Six

Sees

Che

Seis

Roku

Sect

Aaru

Exee

Sittha

Shescht

Aaru

Shest

7

Seven

Set

Sath

Siete

Shichi

Zeben

Ezhu

Epta

Sab'aa

Shyedem

Erlu

Sim

8

Eight

Huit

Art

Ocho

Hachi

Acht

Ettu

Ochto

Thamaniya

Oshyem

Ettu

Vosim

9

Nine

Neuf

Now

Nueve

Ku

Noin

Onpatu

Ennea

This'a

Jevinch

Onpatu

Devit

10

Ten

Dees

Das

Dies

Ju

Sein

Patu

Deka

A'shra

Jishinsch

Patu

Disiet

 

As an example, above I have included a table I made during teacher training with the help of my peers.  Below is an example of what could be written on the board at the end of the activity to demonstrate the link between the equivalence in meaning of words in different languages and the equivalence in value between fractions, decimals and percentages.

 

1/10 = 0.1 = 10%

1/2 = 0.5 = 50%

3/4 = 0.75 = 75%

 

Preparing this activity for the first time may take some time.  But after doing it again and again it requires less preparation.  Not only that, after a few times you may even be able to convince a few students that you are actually fluent in all those languages.  If you actually do know that many languages then why are you teaching Maths?   You should consider a career change.  I remember after performing this activity in front of my peers at University they asked me if I actually knew all those languages.  Can you guess what I said?  Their response was I should consider a career change.  In reality I know two of the languages and didn’t change my career path.  I may not be teaching in a classroom at the moment but am still teaching, just in a different way.

 

Maths teachers or language teachers feel free to use this activity as a cross-curricular activity with a focus on inclusion.  If you are a training teacher or newly qualified teacher you could use this activity to meet QTS or core standards related to EAL, ESL and if you include sign language, another form of inclusion.  I believe that it can only benefit students and open their minds to the beautiful diverse world we live in.  If you are student reading this article, try the activity for yourself.  Don’t be afraid to come out of your comfort zone and you will be surprised at what you are capable of.  After understanding the relevance and meaning of the activity I am sure it will help you understand the equivalence in value of fractions, decimals and percentages more deeply.  If you like the activity you could suggest the activity to your Maths teacher at school.

Filed Under: Maths Fractions Decimals Percentages World Languages Inclusion EAL ESL Cross Curricular Activity Fun Starter Plenary Tuition Activity


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Nathan

 

Author Information

User Type: Tutor  Verified
Name: Nathan
Uploaded Date: May 06,2016

About The Author

I love to teach. I gained BSc Physics from Imperial College London and PGCE Mathematics from Middlesex University. While studying my degree I taught at KS1 and KS2 level at a Saturday School and also gave tuition, all of which helped me understand that teaching as a career was right for.... Read More

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