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el requisito uno

When trying to explain a concept in mathematics to a classroom involving non-English speakers, we tend to evoke all sorts of hand signals and grasp for the right word. The situation is complicated because mathematics is a language itself.

One resource that might help is the Bilingual English-Spanish Mathematics Dictionary. It was created in the 1990's as a free resource by Denise Meeks, Science Department Chair, Pima Community College (Tucson, AZ).

The goal of the dictionary is to "make readily available in one convenient document a list of those terms needed by students and instructors in order to facilitate the teaching of mathematics to students whose primary language may be Spanish." Sounds great....and it is definitely needed!

To illustrate, consider this one random sample from the "P" section:

  • page - la página
  • pair, couple - el par
  • parabola - la parábola
  • parabolic - parabólico
  • paraboloid - el paraboloide
  • parallel - paralelo
  • parallelogram - el paralelogramo: una figura plana con cuatro lados, siendo paralelos y iguales los lados opuestos
  • parallelopiped - el paralelepípedo: un sólido con seis caras, cada una de la cual es un paralelogramo
  • parameter - el parámetro
  • parenthesis - el (los) paréntesis
One warning: the author of the dictionary assumes that "the user is familiar enough with the Spanish language so as to be able to conjugate the given verb infinitives in all of their moods and tenses, to inflect the given adjectives for gender and number, and, in short, to employ the terminology in the conversational style required in the classroom." For myself and perhaps others, this is a big assumption, but using this resource is worth the try even if the assumption is not met.

Another resource of this same sort is Math.com's English-Spanish Dictionary. I prefer the first option.