What have others learned about my question? #seaccr

I knew that when I first decided to determine how dual language strategies could help my math students succeed I was going to have to collaborate with others.  I have talked with my site administrator and others in my school who implement dual language in their classrooms.  However, the following resources were very informative and I enjoyed reading about the many strategies that other math teachers have used and which ones have worked.  There were so many resources out there but many did not help me out.  Here are a few that will.

(1) Howard, E. R., & Christian, D. (2002). Two-way immersion 101: Designing and implementing a two-way immersion education program at the elementary level. Santa Cruz: Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence, University of California, Santa Cruz.

 Two-way immersion is an educational approach that integrates English first speakers and ELL students for content and literacy instruction in both languages.  The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the key issues and fundamental characteristics for the implementation of a successful program.  Some keys to success:  classrooms should include teachers who are native speakers and possess native-like proficiency in the language of instruction, cooperative learning techniques that give students multiple opportunities to engage in conversation with each other, and content must be comprehensible to ELL students while at the same time providing a challenging learning experience.


(2) Abedi, J.; Courtney, M.; Leon, S.; Kao, J.; & Azzam, T. (n.d.).  English Language Learners and Math Achievement:  A Study of Opportunity to Learn and Language Accommodation.  National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing.

 Studies have suggested that ELL students have more difficulty responding to test items that are linguistically complex.  Studies have shown that simplifying the language of test items helps improve the performance of ELL students without compromising the validity of the assessment.  Accommodations can either refer to specific modifications to the test itself, or modifications to the test procedure.  Modifications to the test include:  assessments in the student’s home language; modification of linguistic complexity; and embedding glossaries into the test for non-content vocabulary.  Modifications to the test procedure include:  allowing extended time for the test; having the test administrator read the test directions aloud; and allowing administration by a familiar test administrator.


(3) Carrasquillo, Angela, M.D.; et al (n.d.).  Promising Instructional Practices for Secondary English Language Learners.  Office of Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Studies.

 ELL students bring to their classrooms their powerful native languages.  Secondary schools will meet the needs of their ELL population by adopting the following effective instructional and programmatic practices:  content courses such as history, science and math should be taught using the approach of integrating language and content; these courses are better taught through language and themes; ELL’s instruction and academic development is enhanced by the use of technology; and secondary school content needs to be culturally relevant to students.


(4) Mathematics: Strategies for Teaching Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students.  April 2004.  Virginia Department of Education: Division of Instruction

The purpose of the document is to provide mathematics teachers with a brief overview of second language acquisition theory and suggest effective strategies for differentiating instruction for limited English proficient (LEP) students.  One of the performance goals of NCLB requires LEP students to become proficient in English while reaching high academic achievement standards in reading/language arts and mathematics.  Some strategies utilized are as follows:  contextual clues, verbal interaction, active participation, step-by-step instructions and asking for student clarification, allow students to talk to peers in their native language, keep bilingual picture dictionaries, integrate writing through the use of journals, use of visuals, and designing hands-on-activities.


 (5) Winsor, Matthew S. (2008).  Bridging the Language Barrier in Mathematics.  Mathematics Teacher. Vol. 101. No. 5.  The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

The purpose of this article was to find ways to help ELL students learn mathematics by researching how one learns a new language and how one learns mathematics.  Three similarities were discovered:  they write to communicate what they are learning, they learn in groups, they learn in real-life settings.  The author created Mathematics as a Second Language (MSL), whose main components are vocabulary activities, journals, group work, and projects.


4 thoughts on “What have others learned about my question? #seaccr

  1. Tracie Weisz

    Brandie – interesting stuff! it seems like your question is morphing from “How do dual language strategies help my math students succeed?” to “Which dual language strategies help my math students succeed?”. Just an observation based on your bibliography. What a complex field – with testing and new standards, it seems like people are really having to quickly innovate new ways to address ELL teaching and learning!

  2. Ms. Bridges

    Hi Brandi,

    I have to tell you I am so fascinated by your research question and I cannot wait to read about your action research findings. I want to comment on one of the resources you found, Mathematics: Strategies for Teaching Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students. I really like all of the strategies the author provided and it got me thinking about how effectively this would be for your Yup’ik students specifically. Alaska Native students are overwhelmingly visual and kinesthetic learners, although our education system is predominantly set up for auditory learners. With the suggestions made by these resources, I believe your Yup’ik students would not only feel supported in their journey to become fluent in academic English, they would also feel supported in their unique learning style. Here is a link to an article from the Journal of American Indian Education that addresses Alaska Native and American Indian students learning style and specifically addresses the teaching of mathematics. I hope it helps. http://jaie.asu.edu/v41/V41I3A2.pdf

    A few other ideas I’ve heard of teachers implementing as they too strive to support ELL students, that I thought might be interesting for you to try, are:

    1). The idea of using mathematics word walls. This may help support student language development, especially if the students are writing out the words and definitions themselves. A helpful website they can use for translations is http://www.freetranslation.com.

    2). http://www.glencoe.com/apps/eGlossary612/landing.php This website is great for ELL students needing a math glossary because it is set up to be multilingual and easy to use. Students can take the information from both the word walls and this glossary and create personal math dictionaries. Honestly, even as an English speaking person I think a personal math dictionary would have been helpful to me as I learned math growing up.

    3). A middle school math teacher I was able to observe and who I believe did a particularly good job teaching ELL students (she taught both native Spanish speaking students and Alaska Native speaking students) and who all of the ELL students seemed to prefer for math class would make every effort to limit the use of nonessential or confusing vocabulary during class. She said it took her lots and lots of practice because we tend to “fill” silent time with filler words but once she made a conscious effort to create silence in her class her ELL students seemed to do better in learning math. I cannot help but think this was her way of giving “wait time” and allowing her students to process without getting further distracted. Other students in class were also instructed not to speak during this time and she would take questions after the allotted “wait time” was up.

    4). Another resource you might want to consider looking into is Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). I know they have done a lot of research on ways teachers can support ELL students, particularly in math and science.

    5). Lastly, during my student teaching I noticed the school using Rosetta Stone to help support ELL students learning English. When you mentioned the use of technology in one of your posts I thought of this and it got me thinking about how effectively Rosetta Stone can be used in the classroom. Also, I am not sure if you know this or not but there is a Yup’ik Rosetta Stone. Imagine how neat it would be for a non-speaking Yup’ik teacher to have access to this resource in their classroom so they can not only learn the native language of their students but use the glossary provided by Rosetta Stone to look up words when an ELL student is struggling to communicate!

    Well, I hope some if not all of this helps. I plan to continue to follow your progress and wish to help anyway I can. You are doing great work for your students!



  3. fadwa3

    Brandie – I am not sure I fully understand where you going with this. Does your research question relate to using ELL strategies to help ELL math students or to help all all math students. if the question is How do dull language strategies help ELL math students then I think it will be helpful however if the question is using ELL strategies to teach math to all students then I thing that math is a universal language in general and students weather they are ELL or not will need limited language knowledge to perform good in math. I know this from personal experience as a ELL tutor as well as an ELL student my self. It was personally easy for me to succeed in math even when I had limited English.

  4. Lexie Razor


    It looks like you have found some pretty good resources so far. Also, did you get the e-mail that I sent to you? It came from my school e-mail and was that document that I was talking about for the vocabulary strategies.

    I found some resources below that might be helpful for you. The 2nd and 3rd one might be the same book, but I was not 100% sure, so I figured I would share just in case.

    The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker







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