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The Bridge between Literacy and Numeracy

Parents have long thought that mastery of language conventions is not an essential skill to mathematical excellence. Traditionally, this assumption stands with older curriculums which focus less on word-based math problems, but rather number based questions such as ‘9 x 7 = ?’. As the NSW education curriculum advances in its development, numeracy has now shifted to focus on maths within real life scenarios, including word problems and reading comprehension. This stresses the need for students to utilise literacy skills in order to develop and excel in numeracy. In essence, literacy and numeracy is inseparable in the modern day curriculum.


Word-based mathematics problems stimulate curiosity, engages student interest and encourages students to understand the concepts in relatable situations. . With frequent exposure and practise of word problems, students better understand the concepts being taught at a deeper level. Extended word problems in maths are often complex with multiple steps involved, often causing confusion and leading students into making silly errors.


Many of the processing skills required to understand and solve mathematics are found in literacy and vice versa. Also known as General Capabilities, the curriculum prioritises literacy and numeracy and its incorporation across all Key Learning Areas. When taught together, they reinforce each other.


So what are the necessary literacy skills that complement numeracy? Some of the common skills include: predicting, inferring, communicating, comparing and recognising cause and effect relationships. Reading and writing tasks support students to analyse, interpret, articulate and visualise various mathematical ideas and provide students with a head start in understanding complex word problems. These skills are further required in evaluating sources and validity of information, a key competency for mathematically literate students; and also an important life skill.


To this end, devoting time to reading and developing literacy skills ultimately support students across all areas of learning, including mathematics. Challenging students to build and revise their literacy skills also allows them to approach mathematical tasks critically. Through the EXL Book Club program, students engage in learning tasks that encourage this critical thinking and develop their skills in relatable contexts also seen in mathematics. Talk to us today to learn more about the EXL Book Club and how it equips students with the necessary skills in literacy and numeracy.

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