How Saying “Times” When Teaching Multiplication Confuses Students

When teaching multiplication, using the word “times” often confuses students. Students may interpret “times” as the same as “plus” or “add”, leading to incorrect answers. Instead, it is more effective to use phrases like “groups of” or “repeated addition” to help students grasp the concept.

One reason why “times” can be confusing is that students may interpret it as an operation similar to addition. For example, if asked to solve 3 times 4, students may mistakenly think they need to add 3 and 4 together, resulting in an answer of 7. By using phrases like “groups of” or “repeated addition,” students can better understand that they need to repeat the process of adding 3 a total of 4 times, resulting in an answer of 12.

Additionally, the word “times” can also be confusing when students encounter larger numbers. For example, when asked to solve 7 times 9, students may struggle to understand the concept of repeated addition with a larger number. Instead of using “times,” teachers can say “7 groups of 9” or “7 repeated 9 times” to help students visualize the process more clearly.

Using alternative phrases also helps students connect multiplication to real-life scenarios. For instance, when teaching a word problem like “If each apple costs $3 and you want to buy 5 apples, how much will it cost?”, using “groups of” or “repeated addition” phrases can help students understand that they need to multiply the cost per apple by the number of apples desired.

Overall, using phrases like “groups of” or “repeated addition” instead of “times” when teaching multiplication can significantly reduce confusion among students. These alternative phrases provide clarity and help students better understand the concept of multiplication as repeated addition. By incorporating these strategies into teaching, educators can create a solid foundation for students’ mathematical understanding.