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
- bring down
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:
- 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:
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!