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Languages Add Up!

An effective approach to learning

The academic approach to learning mathematics is one that has been established and developed over a long period of time, however the study of mathematics has generally been thought of as a school subject that was ‘language independent’ or one that transcended the boundaries of language. Yet poor results from students of ethnic minority backgrounds in the Netherlands have recently encouraged the Freudenthal Institute at Utrecht University to launch a study of the role of language cognisance in mathematics.

For anyone who has studied a language, these findings might not come as that much of a surprise, as there are a number of features shared between learning a new language and mastering the study of mathematics. Repetition in exercises and learning theories by heart are just two of the most obvious features that mathematics and language learning share. Reasoning and rationalising decisions made in the course of study are also common denominators of the two fields of study.

The Dutch study effectively deepened the available knowledge of mathematic and linguistic interaction, and challenged the previous assumption of mathematics being independent of language and universally comprehendible. It’s not just in terms of students learning Dutch either, but any other second, third or multiple languages. When the basic skills are acquired, individual progress is ensured to a greater degree.

If you’re contemplating learning a new language, then it pays to consider the difference an international study exchange program could make to your linguistic, and thus general academic, development. If you learn French in Paris or learn German in Zurich, you’ll be able to benefit from an entire immersion program, ensuring that wherever you go, whatever you do, you’ll be surrounded by the language. Think of it as the “thrown into the deep end” approach to language learning, but really it’s much more enjoyable than that! Discover the world capitals of culture, learning, and history, all through study-abroad language programs. If your linguistic background is from a language other than English, there are also a great number of opportunities to learn English in England, Australia, New Zealand, the United States or Canada. For figures that really add up – and better grades across your report card – make a commitment to effective learning.