Chester Hill Intensive English Centre

Integrating Students from Diverse Backgrounds for High Schools

Telephone02 9645 3780

Emailchesterhil-i.school@det.nsw.edu.au

Mathematics

The study of mathematics is mandatory from Kindergarten to Year 10. 

Mathematics is a key learning area and compulsory in schools from kindergarten to Year 10. It is optional in Year 11 and 12 but many courses in the University or TAFE will require at least General or 2-Unit Mathematics as assumed knowledge.

The IEC Mathematics Faculty comprises a co-ordinator and six teaching staff who are all experienced in teaching Mathematics with an ESL emphasis. We have both high school and primary school trained teachers to cope with the vast range in abilities and standards of our students. We also have bilingual support staff helping with translation in the classroom, as well as one-to-one tutoring twice a week during roll call.

Students are streamed according to the results of entry tests, continual class assessments and common grade tests to facilitate more effective teaching in Mathematics. We are constantly updating our programs to meet the requirements stipulated by the NSW Board of Studies, as well as to cater for the changing profiles of new students. We offer the Stage 3, 4, 5 and 6 curricula.

The Mathematics program in Chester Hill High School Intensive English Centre is unique because we have to cater for students with very varied educational backgrounds and wide-ranging ages. Some students have never been to schools and others have completed first year of University in their own countries. The aim of the Mathematics Department is to prepare students to cope with the English language as well as the basic skills required in Mathematics for Years 7 to 11 in high school. For students with none or very limited schooling, we start with the early stage curriculum. For students with good mathematical backgrounds and who are motivated, we provide extensions with practice in state competition tests, SNAP (Secondary Numeracy Assessment Program) tests and School Certificate tests..

The main obstacle in Mathematics teaching and learning is the language. Students have great difficulty in understanding what the question wants them to do and to make matters worse, the language of Mathematics is technically dense. For example; the question 'By how much does the sum of 17 and 15 exceed the difference of the same two numbers?' The answer is simply (17 + 15) - ( 17-15) = 30. It requires good knowledge of mathematical vocabulary and English usage to tackle application questions; all of which requires time, constant practice and dedication.

Despite the initial demands that makes Mathematics seem challenging to many; the rewards are high. As mentioned before, many courses in the University such as Engineering, Computer Science, Pharmacy, Medicine, most Sciences, Commerce/Marketing/Economics and some aspects of Education all require at least 2-Unit Mathematics. For many TAFE apprenticeship courses such as carpentry, electrician and plumbing; knowledge of Mathematics would also come in handy, if not essential.

Some suggestions for learning Mathematics

1. Constant repetition

This is useful for learning the times-tables. Write out the 2,4 and 8 times-tables daily for a whole week. Ask parents or siblings at home who can help to test you orally and at random. Proceed to the 3, 6 and 12 x, then the 5 and 10x. Finally, learn the 7,9 and 11 x well and you will find Mathematics to be a lot easier than you think!

2. Reading and writing numbers.

Read your numbers; 0 – 100, forwards and then backwards daily to facilitate counting. Progress onto 1000s, then millions. 

3. Make palm cards of times-table, vocabulary, formulae and shapes. Learn them on the train, recess/lunch when you feel bored or during short breaks at home.

4. Keep a personal list of vocabulary and formulae(with first language translation) and always draw a diagram where possible to help remember. e.g. Area formula for trapezium = ½h (a + b)

5. Underline key words in question to help understand what is being asked e.g. A boy walks at 2km/h for 3½ hours. How far has he walked at the end of that time?

6. ry to apply what you've learnt to everyday life e.g. when you are shopping, calculate the change and discounts. Read labels on the supermarket shelves for volume, capacity, weight and calculate the time you have to wait for the next train. Perhaps you should also plan a personal budget with your income and pocket money.

7. Make it a priority to complete all homework. Mark with the answers at the back of the book and ask your teacher if you get it wrong. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Finding out what you have done wrong is very important in Mathematics.

8. Practise, practise, practise!Appropriate textbooks are provided by the school but an additional Mathematics Workbook (purchased at own cost) will be helpful. Do ask your teachers for advice.

9. Consistency, a relaxed mind and persistence are essential in learning Mathematics successfully, so always set aside time for it daily, at a suitable place and never give up even if you keep getting it wrong initially.