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Cotmanhay Junior School

Safe, Happy Learning

Mathematical vocabulary

Many words used in mathematics are terms specific to the subject area which may rarely be encountered outside the lesson, for example, multiple, factor, trapezium, denominator. It is important to introduce these words explicitly first, explaining their meanings clearly. Some words used in mathematics have different meanings when used in an everyday English context, for example, face, take away, match, lots of. It is important that children explore all the meanings they know for these words, then focus on the mathematical definitions to understand how the terms are used in a mathematical context. Using specific mathematical vocabulary, such as 'multiplied by' instead of 'lots of' can help to avoid confusion.


We regularly give pupils opportunities to speak using mathematical language within conversations not just simply by practising words. We identify key language for specific topics and year groups to ensure that new vocabulary is introduced at the right time and that familiar words continue to be consolidated. The below checklists are suggestions of vocabulary appropriate for each area of mathematics at each year level, to ensure that children are equipped with the language they need to make progress.