July 17, 2014

Strategies for Teaching Math to ELLs

Hi everyone,

As we all look forward to heading back to the classroom many of us will be preparing to teach second language learners.

Teachers want to include the instructional strategies that will increase comprehension in second language learners. Here is a list compiled by Virginia Department of Education Division of Instruction back in 2004.  These are tried and true methods that still hold true today.

  •  Integrate the four language modes (listening, speaking, reading, writing) into mathematics class.

  • Model the process. Talk aloud while solving problems on the overhead or chalkboard to show the thinking process and common errors.

  • Have students explain their thinking process aloud to a classmate while solving a problem.

  • Integrate reading and writing through the use of journals, learning logs, poems, literature, etc.

  • Give explicit instruction and practice in reading and writing word problems. Teach students to identify key words in word problems that indicate a certain mathematical operation.

  • Begin class with warm-up activities using mathematical language to give students practice in sentence construction.

  • Write a cloze exercise (a short paragraph with key words missing) or sentence starters (i.e., Perimeter is the…) on the board for students to copy and complete when they enter class.

  • Give students a computation problem to solve, and then have them write the steps they used to solve it in complete sentences.

  • Post labels and vocabulary cards around the classroom on completed word problems, number lines, rulers, fraction diagrams, and/or objects in the class.

  •  Have students paraphrase and write complex concepts in their own words (individually, pairs, or whole class).

  • Review mathematical vocabulary and concepts using games such as TIC TAC TOE, BINGO, Concentration, Charades, etc.

Use a variety of modes of instruction

  • Design multi-sensory lessons (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic).

  • Use visuals whenever possible to reinforce auditory instruction (i.e., charts, graphs, manipulatives, diagrams, models, real objects).

  • Use graphic organizers to visually represent mathematical concepts.

  • Design hands-on activities.

  • Vary groupings throughout the lesson (i.e., independent work, pair work, small groups, whole class).

  • Use real-life problem-solving situations to teach new concepts.


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