January 15, 2021

Vocabulary ELLs need to know for Math

Vocabulary ELLs need to know to understand Math

Vocabulary ELLs need to know to understand Math
Do your English Language Learners (ELLs) struggle with understanding Math?  Many ELLs do.  If you are working with English Language Learners (ELLs) studying Math here are a few things to make sure you cover!

Common English Words in Math

First let's look at the many English words that have totally new meanings when used in Math.  Here are just a few:
  • positive and negative
  • times
  • cone
  • mean
  • net
  • bring down
  • area
  • face
  • plane
  • tree
Before each lesson, take a moment and look for the Math vocabulary you are using in your lesson and identify which words you want to point out and make sure to explain.  For example, students should think 'multiplication' when a word problem uses words like times, every, double, and per.

Prepositions in Math

Make a point to teach, explain, review and practice prepositions.  Prepositions can signal the operation in a word problem.  Make sure your ELLs understand these important words in Math:
  • by
  • with 
  • to
  • into
  • from
  • and more!

Teach ELLs Content Words

All students benefit from using a Math Vocabulary Journal, but it is essential for the ELLs in your Math classes.  Before each unit present the Math vocabulary that will be used in that unit.  Pre-teaching Math Content Words and using a Math Journal will set your ELLs up for success.

Math Prefixes and Suffixes

Don't forget word parts that have keys to the meanings of the words you use in your math lessons.   Here are a few to get you started:
  1. bi
  2. tri
  3. poly
  4. oct
  5. gon 

Passive Voice

Many ELLs are unaccustomed to hearing and understanding the Passive Voice, yet many math word problems use it.  The word by gives you a clue to the passive.  In the passive voice, the action is performed on the subject.  ELLs have problems understanding statements such as:  seven multiplied by 6.  Point out and explain the passive voice to your students when it occurs in Math word problems.  

Vocabulary that is associated with mathematical operations

According to 'Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students'  A Supplemental Resource to the K-12 Mathematics Standards of Learning Enhanced Scope and Sequence  Virginia Department of Education Division of Instruction April 2004  in order to understand mathematics, students must:  

Know that mathematical operations are associated with many different words.  EXAMPLES: 

Addition: add, plus, and, combine, sum, total of, more than, increased by, greater than  

Subtraction: subtract, minus, less, less than, fewer than, decreased by, difference, lower, take away, from, shorter  

Multiplication: multiply, times, product, as a factor, twice, double, triple, groups of  

Division: divide, divided by, quotient, separated into equal groups, shared equally, over, into, how many groups  

Equal: is, are, result, make  

Here is a quick list from www.englishstudyhere.com

These are some ways to help your English language learners excel in Math!
Happy Teaching,

January 2, 2021

Terms for ELD, ESL, EFL Teachers

Terms for ELD, ESL, EFL

Terms for 


Updated from a previous post!

Do you ever find yourself confused with the terms for ELD, ESL, EFL that teachers use when speaking of the components of ELD?  Do you sometimes wonder about exactly what we should be teaching in English Language Development (ELD)?

If your answer is 'YES' don't feel alone.  

Many of us need a refresher on these categories.  Here is an easy guide that will clarify the components of great ELD teaching when teaching English Learners.   Share this with your colleagues at your next ELL, ESL, or ELD  meetings so teachers are all using the correct vocabulary as you discuss lesson planning. 

Components of ELD

Terms for  ELD, ESL, EFL
Phonology terms for ELD, ESL, EFL

The sound system of English.  This basically is the study of speech sounds.

Terms for  ELD, ESL, EFL

Pragmatics terms for ELD, ESL, EFL

Terms for  ELD, ESL, EFLSituational appropriateness of language use.  I think of it as the ability to take turns in a conversation correctly or organizing written text.

Morphology terms for ELD, ESL, EFL

The forms and formation of words, that include prefixes, affixes, suffixes, root words, and inflections.

Terms for  ELD, ESL, EFL

Syntax terms for ELD, ESL, EFL 

The structure of language, including the rules that govern phrases and sentences.  The ability to arrange words and phrases to make meaningful sentences.

Terms for  ELD, ESL, EFL

Language Functions 
terms for ELD, ESL, EFL

The purposes of language.  The broad categories we use to express ourselves.

Terms for  ELD, ESL, EFL

Language Forms and Structures terms for ELD, ESL, EFL

Grammar and language structure.  The grammatical structure we use in sentences to create clear communication.

Terms for  ELD, ESL, EFL

terms for ELD, ESL, EFL

The meaning of language.  The meaning of words, phrases, and sentences both oral and written.  This includes vocabulary and academic language.


I hope you find this helpful,
Happy Teaching!

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