HomeQ&AHow should I approach Math to an English Language Learner that is behind? In both languages or just one?

How should I approach Math to an English Language Learner that is behind? In both languages or just one?

3
votes

So I am teaching in a fourth grade classroom and I have a student that speaks very little English. I don't know if her previous teachers pushed her aside because of the language issue, but she is seriously delayed. She cannot count passed one hundred even in spanish. We are working on adding two digit numbers. She does fine until I get to carrying. I do not know how to explain the one's and ten's place. Should I continue to work with her in English and Spanish? I feel like I am asking her to learn twice as much! Should I try to stay speaking in English to get her familiar with the numbers and drop the spanish? I am basically proficient in spanish with four years under my belt. I am not good with math terms. What do I do?

2370 views
updated SEP 30, 2009
posted by Jmcclain

8 Answers

3
votes

This is a difficult situation. I'm guessing that you are in the U.S. and the child needs to learn how to speak English in order to progress in school.

I have experienced a similar frustration with teaching music to Spanish speaking students (with little knowledge of English). But I think our circumstances are different. What has worked for me is to teach the concept in Spanish. Once the student seems to grasp what I am teaching, I quickly change the vocabulary into English. I know this is twice as much work for both of you, but I think it will work best.

I personally have difficulties with math. I can not imagine someone trying to teach me a mathematical concept in Spanish. It would be too much to process. However, if you taught me in English, once I understood the concept and started practicing, I think I would be ready to change the vocabulary into Spanish.

This method takes more time and patience, but it does work. The key is to immediately change the vocabulary once you can tell the student has confidence in the new concept.

I wish you well!

updated SEP 30, 2009
posted by Nicole-B
This sounds like a great idea! I know that she understands me in spanish until I get to areas with crazy vocab. Then I am not sure how to explain it! I will just have to do translations. I am the only one that really works with her other than the ESL te - Jmcclain, SEP 29, 2009
acher so I spend several hours a day with her. - Jmcclain, SEP 29, 2009
I know from experience that it is difficult to teach a language (math in your case) within a language. I am so glad you are working with her. She will remember you for the rest of her life!!! - Nicole-B, SEP 29, 2009
2
votes

Hi Jmcclain

I would think that your question applies more to the language of math than to either English or Spanish.

Have you tried any visual aids or manipulatives with her to try to get her familiar with the concepts that you are trying to teach? Have you tried to get her parents involved with her education? If you are trying to teach her math in English and she can't yet count to 100, then perhaps you should also address that. I would definitely involve the parents to see what they think they might be able to do to help her along.

I'm sorry if I could not be more helpful, but I sincerely hope that you are able to find the answers that you are looking for.

updated SEP 30, 2009
posted by Izanoni1
Well, I am a certified teacher working as an aide in the classroom. I need to try to conference with the parents. Today was my first day with her and we used several hands on manipulatives so she could see the math happen. - Jmcclain, SEP 29, 2009
I also need to see what her previous education consisted of. Back to the language barier, which language should I approach from? - Jmcclain, SEP 29, 2009
Thank you so much for your answers! - Jmcclain, SEP 29, 2009
1
vote

Strings of beads. Sounds like an abacus. A wonderful teaching aid for addition.

![abacus][1]

[1]: abacus

updated SEP 29, 2009
posted by 0074b507
I have seen these... I will check with the kindergarten classes to see If I can borrow one. Thank you! - Jmcclain, SEP 29, 2009
Absolutely wonderful idea qfreed...an abacus is an amazing tool for teaching math. - Izanoni1, SEP 29, 2009
1
vote

Side issue - "passed" should be "past" in your question.

I think you are correct in that by using only English she's having to learn twice as much, which can leave you struggling to keep her engaged, as it's the feeling of accomplishments that make you want more, whereas frustration and not-getting-it makes you want less. If you feel you can help her understand the maths issue by using some Spanish too, then give her a break, explain the concept in Spanish and then go back to English. If you don't then perhaps as the other answerer suggests, some visual aids, seperate the singles/tens/hundreds etc is how I remember learning it. Use columns of beads that you can add together in one column, and then carry beads over ten over to the next one. Then write down the number of beads in each column to form the final number. That should break any language barrier.

Hope this can help you with some ideas... bounce some off me if you need to work them out a bit more.

updated SEP 29, 2009
posted by AnnoLoki
0
votes

this post needs to be kept alive because it is more important than learning another language . Its about a life .

updated SEP 30, 2009
posted by albert-fabrik-
0
votes

This child needs to be evaluated for her comprrehension first and then take it from there . You may have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and start fresh.

updated SEP 30, 2009
posted by albert-fabrik-
0
votes

if an abacus is the answer ! Why did George W Bush not have at least one ?.

updated SEP 30, 2009
posted by albert-fabrik-
jajajajaja :D - Issabela, SEP 30, 2009
0
votes

btw what's fourth grade in non-american (ie, how old is the child?)

updated SEP 29, 2009
posted by AnnoLoki
9 years old - Jmcclain, SEP 29, 2009
Oh... that's not good :-/ I'm glad she's come across at least one person who's spotted that she needs help. Good for you. - AnnoLoki, SEP 29, 2009
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