Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. Vol. 14, No. 3, October 2008
Murrey, Deandrea L. Differentiating Instructions in Mathematics for the English Language Learner
In Murrey’s article, Differentiating Instructions in Mathematics for the English Language Learner, Murrey discuss the challenges teachers encounter while teaching mathematics to students who are English Language Learners. Murrey points out that a mathematics teacher is not only teaching mathematics but they are also teaching language acquisition. For example, in order for middle school students to progress in using other formulas for various shapes (parallelogram, triangle, trapezoid, circle), the English Language Learner student must first be familiar with the terms of perimeter and area. According to Murrey, English Language Learner students will have more difficulty with recognizing the different formulas for area and perimeter if they can not comprehend the concepts first.
Some suggestions Murrey provides for Math teachers teaching English Language Learner are: speak slower, repeat ideas, and pause to check for understanding. Use of real-life objects and other visual models are also effective teaching methods for English Language Learner. If a teacher can incorporate real world context in their math lessons, then the mathematics activity will provide further meaning for the student. Murrey believes that mathematics comprehension is possible for English Language Learner when the teacher promotes student participation and cooperative learning. Since there is additional anxiety about learning mathematics for the English Language Learner, teachers should create a safe learning environment for the English Language Learner to lessen that anxiety. Creating a less intimidating environment for the English Language Learner will encourage student participation and therefore, invite meaningful engagement. Murrey also suggests that opportunities should be given for the English Language...