# The Money Mustache Community

## Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: mozar on December 18, 2018, 08:45:55 AM

Title: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: mozar on December 18, 2018, 08:45:55 AM
Hello, I would like to learn algebra. I don't have a foundation in math so any tips on how far back I should go? Like should I start by memorizing multiplication tables? I've done lessons at Kahn Academy but it's hard for me to follow. I should say that free is highly preferred.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: tralfamadorian on December 18, 2018, 10:50:57 AM
If Kahn Academy algebra wasn't the right place to start, did you take a look at pre-algebra?

Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: mozar on December 18, 2018, 01:01:31 PM
I was watching the Kahn Academy fractions but sure I'll give it another go. I definitely need pre-algebra, but what comes before pre algebra? I guess I'll just click around Google like I usually do.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: koshtra on December 18, 2018, 01:12:18 PM
You do need your multiplication tables, up through 9x9, absolutely memorized. That's really indispensable. If you're hesitating about whether 6x7 is really 42, while you're trying to figure out other hard stuff, it'll just sink you.

Learn them absolutely by heart, chant them everywhere you go till you can't even say 6x7 without your brain saying "... is 42." Math is totally a matter of layering new skills on top of skills that are deeply, deeply rooted, and that's true at every step: most people who are having trouble with calculus are really having trouble because they never *really* learned their algebra. Nail the simple shit down. If you have to do the even simpler arithmetic first, nail that down. Don't be ashamed or get discouraged about it, just pound it in, brute force of memorization. Do it over and over, sing it, chant it, whatever.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Kroaler on December 18, 2018, 02:49:15 PM
Just chiming in to say that I fell off the bandwagon somewhere in pre algrebra-algebra.   Super embarrassing as an adult..... However I still recently received a job offer at Tesla in a supervisory technical position.  I didn't take it.

But I feel your pain!!  It's on my todo list but I probably need to pick up at a 5th grade level on some fundamentals.

My arithmetic skills are on point though! 😂.  So I can comprehend this whole fire thing...
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Lookilu on December 18, 2018, 03:07:44 PM
Have a look here: https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/algebra-topics/ (https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/algebra-topics/)
All the courses are free!
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: tyler2016 on December 18, 2018, 03:16:22 PM
Koshtra has some solid advice. Don't move on to the next next level until you could teach someone else what you are trying to learn.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: MayDay on December 18, 2018, 03:49:11 PM

If Khan academy takes too big of leaps, IXL is similar but broken down in to much smaller steps. It does cost money though.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: carolina822 on December 18, 2018, 04:26:06 PM
I was watching the Kahn Academy fractions but sure I'll give it another go. I definitely need pre-algebra, but what comes before pre algebra? I guess I'll just click around Google like I usually do.

Don't worry about it being labeled for "kids" - you have to have the basic arithmetic skills (especially multiplication and division and when you're allowed to do what, negative number arithmetic, fractions/decimals, ratios) before hopping to algebra-proper. It all works exactly the same way, but "algebra" puts variables in there, which can be pretty intimidating if your basic skills are a little rusty. The good news is that you probably already know a lot of it, so you can just skim through the parts that are too basic, and when you get to a point that it's getting challenging, you can take your time and make sure that's all solid before moving on (because you're an adult, and there's no pop quiz on Friday - yay!)

Math is one of those things that is real easy to get off track with if you miss a certain skill along the way or you have a not-so-good teacher one year in school. And once you're off track, it can be really hard to get back on and then you think "well, I'm just not a math person" and it never gets any better. You are not alone, and you are not giving up on it so that bodes very well!
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: DeedlesSci on December 18, 2018, 06:39:27 PM
I used to teach GED prep, and Khan Academy was my go-to recommendation.

But, I also recommended myopenmath.com

It has some self-study, self-enroll courses that use open source textbooks (they are good quality). There are also videos and homework.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: oldtoyota on December 18, 2018, 07:13:32 PM
I think it's important to know that an understanding of fractions is important to algebra. I didn't know that until I was an adult. Other adults who fell of the math wagon have since mentioned to me that they became lost with fractions and never entirely recovered.

If Khan Academy offers fraction help, that might be a good place to start.

Hope that helps!
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: robartsd on December 18, 2018, 09:48:05 PM
You do need your multiplication tables, up through 9x9, absolutely memorized. That's really indispensable. If you're hesitating about whether 6x7 is really 42, while you're trying to figure out other hard stuff, it'll just sink you.
I agree - addition, subtraction and multiplication should feel like second nature. While multi-digit problems don't need to be solved instantly in your head, it should feel easier to do them longhand on paper than going to another room to fetch a calculator. Factoring is also an important skill in algebra; so you should quickly see 42 as 2x21, 3x14, and 6x7 (this is easiest if you've memorized multiplication tables as koshtra suggests). Don't worry if division that doesn't result in whole numbers feels a bit difficult - while this can come up in algebra when you apply it to practical problems it is usually avoided (at least in interim steps - don't be surprised to see it as a final step) when teaching algebra.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: tyler2016 on December 19, 2018, 02:51:00 AM
Hats off to those who are taking initiative to learn this stuff.

Oldtoyota, I'm curious, how does one fall of the math bandwagon? I want to make sure my kids don't fall off. It sounds like people fall behind on a particular concept and somehow get pushed through increasingly difficult courses?
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Beardy on December 19, 2018, 07:16:39 AM
It may not be the most cost-effective method, but have you considered taking a math course at a local community college? I'm not sure what your end goal of going back to learn Algebra is, whether inspired by children about to start it and wanting to help or going back to school...For me learning in a classroom is always better than online.

I just had to take College Algebra as part of my track for an AS degree. Believe me, I feel your pain! Log is hateful.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: mozar on December 19, 2018, 08:11:04 AM
Thanks for the encouragement and thoughtful answers! I don't think I will try community college @Beardy, classrooms give me the shakes.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Boll weevil on December 19, 2018, 03:36:11 PM
If I recall correctly, for me it was
Pre Algebra
Algebra 1-2
Geometry
Algebra 3-4
Trigonometry

I don't know what they call the class before pre algebra... probably Math Basics or Arithmetic or something like that.

As to learning it, I've found that math books are sort of abstract, so it might help to find somebody who can help you if/when you get stuck. If possible, also try to find examples where the particular skill you're working on is used in real life... engineering and science are the most likely places, but even that covers a really wide range of subjects from highway bridges to particle physics.

One final suggestion for getting comfortable with arithmetic is to try playing Ken Ken. It's a number game like sudoku, but the arrangement of the numbers is provided by addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. After awhile it becomes second nature that "28x" over 2 boxes means 4x7, but over 3 boxes could be 1x4x7 or 2x2x7. I used to use kenken.com a lot. There are also apps available.

Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: robartsd on December 19, 2018, 04:49:10 PM
I don't know what they call the class before pre algebra... probably Math Basics or Arithmetic or something like that.
For me it was sixth grade math, but others continued with seventh grade math and eighth grade math. I can't remember if my high school offered any math classes to go before Pre Algebra.

I do remember that the progression at my high school was:
Pre-Algebra
Algebra
Geometry
Intermediate Algebra
Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus
Calculus (qualified as first semester calculus at my junior college that taught calculus over 3 semesters - covered some of what the second semester covered).

In math classes I noticed that there were spacial thinkers that thrived in geometry, but struggled in other math classes. There were numerical thinkers that thrived in algebra and arithmetic but struggled in geometry. Everyone seemed to struggle with the concept of bringing those worlds together in Trigonometry. Except me. I was the weirdo who couldn't figure out why people thought math was so abstract and difficult until I attempted to understand the flux and the curl in third semester calculus at my junior college. I wasn't a fan of writing formal geometric proofs and didn't consider myself particularly good at the art of trig function integration in second semester calculus; but the concepts were very logical and straightforward to me.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Goldielocks on December 19, 2018, 05:08:33 PM
mozar -- why do you want to learn algebra?  I find that learning as an adult needs to be goal-oriented.  Also, if you tell us your goal, we might be able to give you a better answer.

Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: mozar on December 19, 2018, 05:53:16 PM
Quote
mozar -- why do you want to learn algebra?  I find that learning as an adult needs to be goal-oriented.  Also, if you tell us your goal, we might be able to give you a better answer.
I want to take the cpa exam. I think the answers are pretty good already.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Goldielocks on December 19, 2018, 06:15:03 PM
oh!  okay.   I don't recall there being algebra on the CPA exam, though when I checked.  I have not taken it, only other similar certification exams for accounting types.

The primary accounting function I recall is y=mx+b.... to describe the graph that is produced when you evaluate the "break even " profit point for a business that has fixed costs, variable costs, etc.

Otherwise, it seems that common (math) sense can get you through the problems, not strict algebra or FOIL needed.,,

After three profitable years, Dodd Co. decided to offer a bonus to its branch manager, Cone, of 25% of income over \$100,000 earned by his branch. For Year 1, income for Cone's branch was \$160,000 before income taxes and Cone's bonus. Cone's bonus is computed on income in excess of \$100,000 after deducting the bonus, but before deducting taxes. What is Cone's bonus for Year 1?

Anyway...
I am glad the references are working for you.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: mozar on December 19, 2018, 07:15:34 PM
I agree that you can get by without algebra on the CPA exam. The issue I found is that not knowing algebra slowed me down and made me run out of time on the test. If I knew how to do algebra I could come up with a faster way to solve the problem. Also in the explanations for the study questions there is sometimes an algebra explanation that I would like to understand. Then there is the economics portion of the CPA exam which always throws me for a loop. I think having algebra knowledge would help me there too.

The issue I have right now is figuring out what I know and don't know. I remember some algebra but then there is some aspect of it that throws me off. I'm trying to figure out a coherent structure to learn math in a rational order.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Rimu05 on December 26, 2018, 01:24:41 PM
Quote
mozar -- why do you want to learn algebra?  I find that learning as an adult needs to be goal-oriented.  Also, if you tell us your goal, we might be able to give you a better answer.
I want to take the cpa exam. I think the answers are pretty good already.
'

Most certification exams have a textbook that will give you the knowledge you need. Admittedly, you may not grasp mathematical concepts as easy as someone with an advanced degree in Math, but it seems certifications are basically a matter of reading the curriculum and plowing through the questions in order to foster understanding. Also, I suspect Math is not going to be a big decider here. You have to plough through nitty gritty stuff like revenue recognition, leases, deffered tax liabilities and Assets, silly US GAAP rules, etc. While it helps to have some Mathematical knowledge, I strongly suspect you won't need it.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Nicholas Carter on December 26, 2018, 01:39:08 PM
If you find that you are struggling to follow these suggestions, you may simply need one on one feedback. There are several site users such as myself with a background in math education, and you could probably find one with a reasonable rate using the Marketplace on the Forum.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: mozar on December 26, 2018, 06:40:56 PM
Thanks for the suggestion @Nicholas Carter. There is something similar in my town. I was thinking of trying there first.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: kenaces on December 26, 2018, 09:25:30 PM
If you decide you would like a math tutor, my better half does online math tutoring.  Feel free to PM me if you are interested.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on December 26, 2018, 09:47:45 PM
Khan Academy is a very good resource, particularly because their lessons use Common Core Math. I know a lot of folks think poorly of Common Core Math, but it is designed to change the way you think about Math, since European languages tend to not be constructed in a way that allows easy understanding of Mathematical concepts, especially when compared to Asian languages. For example, in English we have one through ten then eleven, twelve, thirteen; Korean has one through ten then ten-one, ten-two, ten-three, and so on. It seems like a small change, but it allows for much easier understanding of how the numbers fit together.

Common Core techniques -- such as using tape diagrams and double number lines for rates and ratios, for example -- make it much easier for a Western student to understand Mathematical concepts.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: mozar on December 27, 2018, 10:12:21 AM
Interesting. I think I must have tried Kahn academy before common core was instituted. I will look for that.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Kepler on December 28, 2018, 03:34:03 AM
You could also try Mathspace - https://mathspace.co/personal/plus/ - it gives options to follow the curriculum in sequence for a variety of different countries and, in the US, states.  I'm a little unsure, though, whether it is only free is certain regions (in my country, there's a bank that "sponsors" it, so anyone can get a free account and use the textbook and the interactive lessons without having to be associated with a school that subscribes to it - I'm not clear if this might be region-locked in some way, so it's possible you won't be able to access it...).  It's like Khan Academy in that it's interactive, systematic, has explanations and hints, etc.  If Khan Academy isn't working for you, this is similarly convenient and systematic, but sometimes hearing something in a slightly different way will help things click...
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: MustacheAnxiety on December 28, 2018, 04:56:05 AM
I dont have much to add beyond what was already suggested. If you are good at traditional book learning old editions of math textbooks have all the same info and are very cheap. You could also try your local library.

I saw a few suggestions that the CPA exam has no/little algebra. Once you really learn algebra to the point it is intuitive (and you will if you keep trying) algebra is just arithmatic. Solving for x all alone on the right side of the equation will seem no different from solving for x all jumbled up with numbers on the left. The world is full of opportunities to use math once you learn it to the point it is second nature. Good luck!
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: laceconprof on December 28, 2018, 06:27:57 AM
(Answering this as an economics professor).

First, good job on working on your pre-calc and algebra. Algebra is at the core of being able to do useful work in spreadsheets or understanding most computer code.

When you get to the algebra stage, let me recommend two tools I use with my students all the time:

First, Desmos graphing: https://www.desmos.com
I'd really encourage you to put different functions on there to really get a feel for what it means for a slope to change, a sign to change, and to get an intuitive grasp of how the math and the graph relate to each other. When I teach economics courses, there's often a gap between students who have that intuition and those who do not. What does it mean for a line to have a positive slope? What does it mean for output to increase at a decreasing rate? And so on.

Second, WolframAlpha is incredible for breaking things down and helping solve problems. You can give it an equation and ask it to "solve for x" and it'll do so (and show you the steps sometimes depending on the problem). It'll also do calculus for you.

Otherwise, as other folks have said before, fractions, fractions, fractions! Know what it means to work with them - especially division and multiplication. Also, when you get to them, the reason times tables are so important is because of the role of exponents (or "powers"). What does it mean to square x? What does it mean to raise x to the third power? What does it mean to raise x to the power minus 1?

I mentioned the above after seeing where my students often struggle (though I realize it's more algebra than pre-algebra).

Most of all, good luck! Also, as other folks recommended, try to find someone else who can help you one on one. It does wonders. Also, do mountains of problems and testing. Nothing substitutes for doing many, many, many problems.

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: Roadrunner53 on December 28, 2018, 06:59:30 AM
I worked in R&D as a technician. I had no college degree. I was never good in math and never had algebra. Like a lot of people with dyslexia who try to hide their disorder, I tried to hide my math problems throughout my working life and it was horrible. I would ask people to help me figure out things. My last job I finally got put in a corner. My boss who was a genius and graduated from MIT wanted me to do some calculations using algebra. I tried to wing it and asked him for an example. He said it was a very simple calculation. OMG, it might as well have been hieroglyphics on a pyramid. I finally, as an older adult, had to admit to him I never had algebra. It was the most embarrassing moment in my life. To him this calculation was no more than 1+1=2. To me there was no way on earth I could do it because I never studied it. In prior years I bought different books on Algebra books for dummies and even bought some children's books on learning algebra. I never, ever could 'get it'.

My boss was a young man and was very kind but to this day I can imagine he must have thought I was a blooming idiot. I even asked my Dad years ago to help me while he was still alive and had a college education and he admitted he never used it and had forgotten how to do it.

I struggled with math my whole life. I kind of realize when I was a kid and we were learning math, I didn't like it and didn't pay attention or apply myself thinking that like in history class when you don't like certain chapters, the next one might be better or more interesting. I didn't get it that learning math is a series of building blocks where one thing builds you up to be able to do the next thing. So, I was good at nothing and was a math idiot. Thank goodness I was always a good saver and my basic math skills improved as an adult.

I am retired now and no longer have to worry about algebra but I sure wish I had been able to do it. It would have made my life a lot easier.
Title: Re: Resources for an adult learning Algebra?
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on December 28, 2018, 07:05:48 AM
I worked in R&D as a technician. I had no college degree. I was never good in math and never had algebra. Like a lot of people with dyslexia who try to hide their disorder, I tried to hide my math problems throughout my working life and it was horrible. I would ask people to help me figure out things. My last job I finally got put in a corner. My boss who was a genius and graduated from MIT wanted me to do some calculations using algebra. I tried to wing it and asked him for an example. He said it was a very simple calculation. OMG, it might as well have been hieroglyphics on a pyramid. I finally, as an older adult, had to admit to him I never had algebra. It was the most embarrassing moment in my life. To him this calculation was no more than 1+1=2. To me there was no way on earth I could do it because I never studied it. In prior years I bought different books on Algebra books for dummies and even bought some children's books on learning algebra. I never, ever could 'get it'.

My boss was a young man and was very kind but to this day I can imagine he must have thought I was a blooming idiot. I even asked my Dad years ago to help me while he was still alive and had a college education and he admitted he never used it and had forgotten how to do it.

I struggled with math my whole life. I kind of realize when I was a kid and we were learning math, I didn't like it and didn't pay attention or apply myself thinking that like in history class when you don't like certain chapters, the next one might be better or more interesting. I didn't get it that learning math is a series of building blocks where one thing builds you up to be able to do the next thing. So, I was good at nothing and was a math idiot. Thank goodness I was always a good saver and my basic math skills improved as an adult.

I am retired now and no longer have to worry about algebra but I sure wish I had been able to do it. It would have made my life a lot easier.

Don't beat yourself up about it. I did extremely poorly in Math in school and a lot of it came from the fact that I had untalented Math teachers. My main high school Math teacher taught my class one period before Lunch and he -- ahem -- enjoyed Lunch quite a bit, so he'd spend the entire period talking about what the cafeteria was having that day instead of actually teaching Mathematical concepts. As a consequence, algebra and geometry may as well have been Ancient Greek to me.

Luckily, we live in an era of wonders and marvels, so I was able to learn what I needed as an adult and now I work a job that involves a lot of Math and I have no problem with it. I really wish all this technology had existed twenty years ago, because a lot of folks fell through the cracks over the years and I wish they could have had access to all this knowledge.