'Julia, can you come over here?’
'What can I do for you? Any problems with calculations (= the process of counting something)?’
'Oh, yes. You know I’m not the numerate (= good with numbers) type. I know that the computer can do the whole thing for me, but I still would like to grasp the idea behind it.’
'All right, let me show you, it’s really a piece of cake.’

'I guess that first you have to add (= put numbers together) the figures (= numbers) in these columns on the left and calculate their total (= all the numbers counted together).’
'That’s right. Then multiply it by 20 (= add a number to itself a particular number of times), which is the number of days.’
'I see. Now I know what I did incorrectly. Instead of multiplying, I divided the total by 4 (= do a calculation to find out how many times a number contains a smaller number), which is why I got it all wrong.’
'OK. The amount you get is expressed in decimals (= e.g. 0.5 or 25.75), but I think it is what you actually need for the report.’
'Cheers, Julia. You’ve been most helpful.’


More contexts for the new words:

  • If yousubtract70 from 100, you get 30. (= take a number or amount from another number or amount)
  • Their flat is 120m2(= square meters)




Match the words to the mathematical symbols.


add – decimals – divide – multiply – square meters – subtract


+ 1. ……………………………….
2. ……………………………….
* 3. ……………………………….
/ 4. ……………………………….
0.3 5. ……………………………….
m2 6. ……………………………….




Match the question halves, then answer them.


  1. Do you consider yourself                        a. does your flat have?
  2. Which calculations are the most           b. difficult for you?
  3. How many square meters                       c. numerate?





Today I’d like to draw your attention to prefixes used for making adjectives of negative meaning. One of the sentences said:

’Now I know what I did incorrectly.

The root word here is 'correct.’ It was first changed into an adverb and then into its opposite by adding a negative prefix 'in-’. Some other adjectives preceded by the same prefix are: INcompetent, INaccuarte, INcoherent. As you can easily notice, IN- is often followed by words beginning with the sound /k/ or with vowels (it’s not a 100% rule, though).

Other common negative prefixes are:
– IM – (e.g. immature, impolite)
– UN – (e.g. unselfish, unreliable)
– IL – (e.g. illogical, illiterate)
– IR – (e.g. irresponsible, irrational)
– DIS- (e.g. dissatisfied, disloyal)





A/ Can I help you with these calculations?

B/ Yes, please do. You know I don’t HAVE A HEAD FOR FIGURES.


If you don’t have a head for figures, you aren’t good with numbers. This idiom is usually used in the negative.






  1. if a set of facts does not ADD UP, you do not believe it is correct because it does not match other information that you already have. This phrasal verb is usually used in the negative.

There’s something about this case that just doesn’t add up.
Why would she disappear the day before her wedding? It just doesn’t add up.


  1. When you ADD ON TO a place, you build an extra part onto a building.

You might want to add on to the kitchen at a later time.
They built a porch, adding on to their country house.




Match the conversation halves.


  1. Why don’t you believe my story?
  2. Are you building the whole house at one go?
  3. Why did you fail your math test?


  1. I’ve never had a head for figures.
  2. It just doesn’t add up.
  3. No, we’ll build the ground floor now and add on to it in the future.






Are you tired of explaining to everyone that you don’t have a head for figures? Do you have to double-check if two plus two really equals four? Do you wake up in the middle of the night, all sweaty and shivering, from math-related nightmares? If so, then you might be suffering from dyscalculia.

Dyscalculia, also known as math disability, is a peculiar learning disability characterized by an

innate difficulty in learning or understanding arithmetic. It is the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia, although it is much less popular than the spelling disorder.

If you’re diagnosed with the problem, you might decide to undergo some psychological treatment. Alternatively, you could try using some specialized computer software to help you. Last but not least, a viable option might entail an avoidance strategy – you simply ask others to do the counting for you!


shivering – trembling

innate – inborn

viable – possible


download lesson (pdf)





  1. add
  2. subtract
  3. multiply
  4. divide
  5. decimals
  6. square meters



  1. c
  2. b
  3. a



  1. b
  2. c
  3. a