I have pretty much covered in details in one of my earlier blog http://hardik.practutor.com/index.php/competitive-exams-college/ why English is of utmost importance and in a few cases more important than Math. However, since this comes up in all the meetings and all the places I talk about PracTutor. I think it warrants another look.
Let me start with an example –
We asked 10 students in Grade 5 a question
What is 2400 – (250+100+1000+500) ?
9 out of 10 kids answered it correctly. Since this is nothing but simple addition and subtraction that most kids have championed till Grade 5.
But, if I ask a question like this
Your body needs about 2,400 milliliters of liquid each day. You drink 250 milliliters of juice, use 100 milliliters of milk on cereal, drink a one liter bottle of water, and drink 500 milliliters of milk at lunch. How much more liquid do you need today?
You need _______________ of more liquid today.
Only 6 out 10 students get it correct, a drop of 33%.
Why did this happen? This question is exactly same as the previous one. Only this one is a real world, practical question and the previous one is a hypothetical thing which the student will never ever be doing throughout his life.
The reason the students could not answer the second question is simple. They could not comprehend what was written and then create a formula out of it. This is where English plays a crucial role. My partner keeps on telling me – solving a problem is the basic thing, knowing the steps while solving the problem is good, but the best student are those who understand the problem and solve it accordingly. If your comprehension and understanding the problems (words) is not strong you will not be able to solve the problem.
If you think about it these are the skills we want our kids to develop for their life as well. Know the problem, analyse it and then try to solve it using your knowledge.
I think if you are able to comprehend and getting the exact meaning of any Math problem, getting to the answer is a mere derivative of your knowledge.