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Saying & Writing Fractions in English

January 9, 2015

We've got a new lesson about cardinal, ordinal, and nominal numbers on our site this month: Saying & Writing Numbers. It's important for English language learners to be able to count, spell out, and pronounce all kinds of numbers in English. Fractions are especially tricky when it comes to expressing numbers orally or writing them alphabetically. I thought I'd expand on the fractions section of our lesson so that teachers and students have a handy reference guide of common fractions. (By the way, anyone who knows me will think it's hilarious that I'm writing a math-related blog post, but I'll do my best!)


Hand out this printable list of common fractions (or write them out on the board). Model the pronunciation for your students. Make sure your students notice the hyphen when fractions are written out, and point out that there is usually a space between a number and a fraction (e.g., 2 1/2, not 21/2).

*Note: In example 6, a quarter teaspoon of salt is short for a quarter of a teaspoon of salt.


After you've gone over the list, practice by having students role-play using the scenarios they've come up with. You could have them do it orally or have them write out their dialogues and present them to the class. Scenarios could include dividing something up (a pizza, a cake, building materials, toys, jewels, etc.), shopping, cooking, baking, measuring liquids, etc.


Check out our new Saying & Writing Numbers lesson in the Functional English section. It has a list of cardinal (1, 2, 3, etc.) and ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) numbers, describes the purpose of nominal numbers (phone numbers, zip codes, etc.), provides rules for writing numbers, and has practice on common writing and speaking mistakes involving numbers.

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