Help Language Learners Overcome Math Myths
A MiddleWeb Weblog

After I first joined one in every of my earlier faculties, I used to be assigned to the best want lessons, which frequently had been social research and science. My job was to make the content material accessible.

When college students went to math class, although, I didn’t comply with them. That doesn’t imply my college students had been all capable of entry the maths content material and didn’t want my assist – simply that we had restricted personnel.

The myths round math instruction and language learners are pervasive. Dr. Jim Ewing believes there are three myths that always maintain language learners again from excessive ranges of accomplishment in math class.

Jim Ewing discusses these three myths in a current dialog at my Empowering LLs podcast. You possibly can pay attention right here. I’ve summarized his key concepts right here.

The three Math Myths

Delusion 1: Math doesn’t contain language

This can be a large false impression. Math isn’t just numbers and shapes. It has its personal set of content-specific vocabulary (e.g., fractions, divided, sum, issue, a number of, and so on.). If college students don’t know the English math phrases, it’s way more difficult to comply with alongside.

Delusion 2: Academics ought to have low expectations of language learners in math

Some language learners are held to decrease expectations whereas studying math due to their growing English proficiency. Nevertheless, these college students are sometimes able to partaking in extremely difficult mathematical computations. Language capability doesn’t equal mathematical degree or capability. Many language learners can compute and drawback clear up at a a lot increased degree than their English proficiency would counsel.

Delusion 3: Good mathematicians are quick

It may take a big period of time to unravel a posh drawback. Mathematicians must be meticulous and chronic when confronted with a troublesome query. Processing pace doesn’t equal ability mastery. Furthermore, college students who should translate directions and instructions are nearly all the time going to want just a little extra time to point out their ability development.

A Framework for Success

In Ewing’s guide, Maths for ELLs: As simple as uno, does, tres, he presents a framework to help lecturers as they assist college students grasp math ideas and processes. The framework encourages lecturers to recollect these 4 elements :


Create optimistic studying experiences that respect college students and their cultures. They should see themselves, their experiences, their neighborhoods, their customs, and their methods of being in math. When this occurs commonly, college students will consider that math is each part of their cultures and accessible. One technique to accomplish that is so as to add a tradition goal to your subsequent lesson or unit.


Use methods (labeled diagrams, video tutorials, manipulatives, translanguaging, sentence starters) to ascertain understandable enter and scaffold for understandable output.

Train (Language)

Explicitly train the math-specific vocabulary and phrases (greater than, lower than, divided by, a a number of of, and so on.) in order that college students can comprehend instruction and talk their pondering mathematically. This additionally means instructing by way of student-to-student dialogue as a result of speaking concerning the math issues helps college students develop math expertise and ideas. Speaking is an act of making, and creating is the fruit of studying. Train content-specific language utilizing these concepts.


Make sure that to construction studying experiences to be appropriately difficult whereas nonetheless offering scaffolds for college kids to interact within the rigorous mathematical ideas and processes. In different phrases, if you wish to check them on the content material, don’t check them on the language.

A Mannequin for Math Instruction

After I requested Ewing for particular methods that help language learners, he provided a 5E mannequin to construction math classes to spice up scholar achievement ranges.


Hook the scholars into being fascinated by partaking with the maths drawback. If attainable, create a real-life context for college kids that requires particular mathematical processes. For instance, you’ll be able to set the maths drawback at a quinceañera and create a math drawback with characters and occasions related to this get together.


Construction math much less as a set of formulation to comply with and extra as an inquiry into methods to unravel the issue. This might stimulate higher important pondering. For instance, you’ll be able to ask college students to find out what number of packs of paper plates the household internet hosting the quinceañera get together wants if they’ve 50 visitors, every visitor will use two plates, and the paper plates are available in packs of 9.


Have college students clarify the method they took to unravel the issue concerning the quinceañera get together. They’ll accomplish that both by speaking to one another or by way of writing. This dialog solidifies their understanding of the maths ideas and encourages using math terminology and phrases to speak. College students can use their residence languages as they focus on the maths drawback too.


Take an idea college students simply realized and add one other idea to construct on their understanding. For instance, college students can add packs of paper plates till they attain 100 plates for the quinceañera get together. To increase college students’ math expertise, train them the right way to multiply as one other course of to unravel this drawback.


Be sure that college students can comprehend the duty and the questions earlier than evaluating their understanding. Additionally, be sure that college students comprehend math-specific phrases that can seem on the evaluation and that they will use the phrases precisely. ‌

For math class and past 

I hope that these options have affirmed a lot of what you’re already doing together with your college students and which you can add a couple of extra instruments to your device field in terms of designing instruction for language learners. Although these options are for studying math, they will information designing instruction in all content material areas as a result of they’re based mostly on fairness, entry, and relevance.

How will you employ these concepts to construction your math classes to make sure that language learners are profitable?

News Reporter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *