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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


ELL in Mathematics: What Teachers Need to Know about this Universal Language

Jioanna Carjuzza, Nancy Drickey.

The achievement gap in mathematics between native English speakers and English language learners (ELL) is widening. The assumption that numbers, the language of mathematics, is universal may apply to basic concepts found in the elementary math curriculum.

At the secondary level where ELL who participate in mainstream math classes are expected to learn the content at the same rate and same degree of mastery as their native English speaking counterparts, differences in achievement are significant (Abedi, Hofstetter, Baker, and Lord, 1998).

Since 1989 when the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics released their Curriculum and Evaluation Standards the development of problem solving and critical thinking, in place of the traditional focus on the acquisition of facts and technical skills have been emphasized (Anstrom, 1999). In some content areas oral and written communication skills along with cognitive skills are stressed, but in math the linguistic demands of the content are often ignored.

In order to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students in the mainstream math classroom, teachers need training in integrating academic content and language learning. This presentation will focus on best practices for teachers to make their grade level math content comprehensible to ELL.


Jioanna Carjuzza

Nancy Drickey  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Education Department
Linfield College

Dr. Nancy Drickey earned a PhD in Research and Evaluation Methodology with a specialization in Math and Science Education from Utah State University in Logan, Utah. She has 13 years experience teaching mathematics in the public schools and 5 years teaching mathematics education at the university level. She currently teaches mathematics and education courses at Linfield College in McMinville, Oregon

  • ELL in Mathematics

(30 min Conference Paper, English)