How to Help Ell Students in Math


Title: How to Help ELL Students in Math: Strategies and Tips


English Language Learners (ELL) face unique challenges when it comes to learning math, as they are not only grappling with mathematical concepts but also navigating the complexities of a new language. However, with effective strategies and support, educators can help these students overcome language barriers and succeed in math. In this article, we will explore various approaches to assist ELL students in their mathematical journey, along with a frequently asked questions (FAQs) section addressing common concerns.

Strategies and Tips for Supporting ELL Students in Math:

1. Develop a Strong Foundation:
– Begin by reinforcing basic mathematical vocabulary and concepts to ensure students have a solid foundation.
– Use visual aids, manipulatives, and real-life examples to illustrate mathematical ideas, making it easier for students to grasp new concepts.

2. Encourage Active Participation:
– Foster a safe and inclusive classroom environment where ELL students feel encouraged to participate actively.
– Implement cooperative learning strategies, such as group work, pair activities, and peer tutoring, to enhance engagement and promote language development.

3. Incorporate Multilingual Resources:
– Utilize bilingual dictionaries, glossaries, and math-related websites in the students’ native languages, providing additional support and clarifying complex terms.
– Display math vocabulary in multiple languages on classroom walls to reinforce learning and facilitate understanding.

4. Emphasize Language Acquisition:
– Teach math-specific academic language explicitly, including mathematical symbols, terms, and phrases commonly used in word problems.
– Encourage students to practice speaking and writing in English by providing opportunities for them to explain their mathematical reasoning and solve problems verbally.

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5. Provide Scaffolding Techniques:
– Break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable steps, guiding students through the problem-solving process.
– Model problem-solving strategies, including think-alouds and step-by-step demonstrations, to help ELL students understand the logic behind procedures.

6. Leverage Technology and Visual Aids:
– Incorporate interactive math software, educational apps, and online resources that offer visual representations and interactive exercises to support comprehension.
– Utilize visual aids like charts, graphs, diagrams, and pictures to supplement explanations and enhance understanding.

7. Differentiate Instruction:
– Recognize diverse learning styles and tailor instruction to accommodate individual needs.
– Offer a variety of instructional approaches, such as hands-on activities, kinesthetic learning, and auditory cues, to cater to different learning preferences.

8. Foster a Supportive Partnership:
– Establish effective communication with ELL students’ families to better understand their cultural context and support their child’s learning.
– Provide resources and suggestions for families to reinforce math skills at home, such as math games, puzzles, or online practice platforms.

FAQs Section:

Q1. How long does it usually take for ELL students to become proficient in math?

A: The time it takes for ELL students to become proficient in math varies greatly depending on various factors such as prior math education, language proficiency, and individual effort. Consistent support, differentiated instruction, and a positive learning environment can significantly accelerate the learning process.

Q2. What are some effective strategies to motivate ELL students in math?

A: To motivate ELL students in math, teachers can incorporate culturally relevant examples, connect math concepts to real-life situations, and provide opportunities to use math in hands-on and meaningful ways. Additionally, recognizing and celebrating their progress, effort, and achievements can go a long way in boosting motivation and self-confidence.

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Q3. How can I help ELL students who struggle with word problems?

A: To assist ELL students with word problems, it is crucial to teach them math-related academic language explicitly. Break down the problem into smaller parts, identify the keywords, and encourage students to draw diagrams or use manipulatives to visualize the situation. Encourage them to explain their thought process aloud or in writing to reinforce understanding.

Q4. What are some additional resources for supporting ELL students in math?

A: Various online resources, such as Khan Academy, Math Playground, and Math is Fun, provide interactive math lessons, tutorials, and games suitable for ELL students. Additionally, professional development workshops and courses focused on teaching math to ELL students can offer valuable insights and strategies for educators.


Supporting ELL students in math requires a combination of effective strategies, differentiation, and a supportive learning environment. By implementing these strategies, educators can empower ELL students to overcome language barriers and develop mathematical proficiency. Remember, patience, cultural sensitivity, and individualized support are key to helping these students succeed in their mathematical journey.