When teaching be hesitant to present a finished solution, look to the students for suggestions. Standard methods can become mechanical and mysterious to the anxious student. Stress the common sense motivation of any plan devised. Stress the use of variables.
When learning be prepared to reread and retry problems. Many of those who claimed skill in solving word problems mentioned returning to them after being confused in Algebra I. The skills one gains by growing and progressing in other subjects can aid one in solving word problems. Give yourself a chance.
This paper has been aimed at two audiences: instructors and students. It you are an instructor, read Polya. If you are a student, I hope this has been of aid. If you still think you need help in word problems go back and try the examples on your own. Ask more questions than I did. Find other references. Don’t give up. Remember at the start of Algebra we may consider it to be arithmetic using letters like numbers. The variable concept.