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How to Learn Math in English: Guide for Foreign Students

Some people have a natural inclination towards math. They seem to grasp every detail from the first time and...

Avatar Written by James Collins · 2 min read >
Math student presentation

Some people have a natural inclination towards math. They seem to grasp every detail from the first time and use the learned theorems to solve exercises quickly. Many say that math is a universal language, so Mathematicians should be able to communicate freely, even though they come from different cultures or countries. While the way you note the variables, solve numerical equations or name the angles and sides of a triangle might be universal or at least similar, the actual math vocabulary is changed. 

Learning math in English is one of the challenges that many foreign students need to overcome. As technology and the world develops, more and more students choose to study abroad. And most of the study programs for foreign students are taught in English. Even though many people would think that you do not need language for math learning, this is not true. Understanding math vocabulary is essential and it can often come with the hint you need to solve that math assignment. Here is a guide that will help you face the challenges of learning math in English. 

Learn Basic English Math Vocabulary 

One of the challenges of being a foreign student is overcoming the barrier of communication. This might seem more difficult especially if you chose to study in a country where the spoken language is English.  One of the first steps you could make towards learning math in English is trying to learn the basic math vocabulary. The theories, assumptions, or theorems are the same, as math is universal. But how you name it is surely different because we are speaking here of different languages. 

Because English is the second most-spoken language in the world, you will find on the internet a lot of resources and guides to help you acquire basic English math vocabulary. You can also use an app to make your studying sessions more productive

Learning and Studying Math 

Learning basic English math vocabulary usually happens at the same time you acquire new math knowledge. And besides learning math vocabulary, students also need to improve their math knowledge, unless they will fall behind their colleagues and might get bad grades. So, many of them start searching for information about math or how to resolve math assignments online.

If you want to improve your knowledge about math and solving math assignments, try to read more information on this topic on plain math. This resource provides extensive information on the topic of solving mathematical problems. Many students recommend this site as a great knowledge base that really helps them improve their knowledge of mathematics.

Learn by Seeing 

We all know that math is not only about complex functions, derivatives, or integrals, but also about geometry. Functions can easily be represented in a graphic form and using math language, which can help you associate the English math vocabulary with your existing knowledge. 

All you have to do is to learn by seeing. Whenever you want to learn a new word or the name of the theorem and you note it down, you could add a picture, draw, or make a graphic representation. This way, you teach your brain to make connections and links and learn new names for existing knowledge. At the same time, it is important to note the different variations in some equations; for example, multiplication is noted differently (x, ( ), and *) and it’s essential to be aware of these slight differences. 

Ask Colleagues for Support

Even though the technology is constantly developing and improving, there still isn’t a book written for foreign students on the topic of learning math in English. However, reading a book like this would take time, and many students have crowded schedules. For sure you have some colleagues that are native English speakers or are more proficient than you in math vocabulary in English. You can ask them for help and support, and you will also have the occasion to learn by doing. Practicing with someone that has better control of math vocabulary will help you improve your own faster. 


Being a foreign student comes with both advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is not knowing English math vocabulary, which contrary to popular beliefs, is essential for solving math assignments and improving your knowledge on this subject. This is a challenge you can overcome by learning basic math vocabulary, reading about plain math, associating the theoretical knowledge with pictures and graphic representations, or asking your English native colleagues for support. 


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Written by James Collins
James Collins is a college tutor and polyglot. His favorite hobby is learning new languages and organizing speaking clubs. James believes that being fluent in a foreign language is impossible without constant conversational practice, so he helps hundreds of people to find speaking partners and master their skills. Profile