Math Vocabulary

English language learners struggle with content literacy. The frustration my English Language learners have with academic vocabulary led to my action research project. Vocabulary is an obvious area in which to focus my research because it emphasizes teaching the meanings of words and their elements. I chose math vocabulary because it seems to be the most difficult for them. There is so much more to math than just numbers. Most students tend to think that studying vocabulary is meant for other subjects, like reading and English. The Georgia Milestones Math portion is heavy laden with math vocabulary. Math vocabulary is important for students to understand when completing homework, taking test, and being successful on state assessments.
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The overarching theme is ELs and how they often struggle with academic vocabulary. The EL, as a student in a mainstreamed classroom, often has difficulty with the academic demands of content literacy and vocabulary. The second theme of this research is about the difficulties of math vocabulary, as many English words have multiple meanings and are just not used in daily conversations. Finally, the third theme is that of strategies on how to help improve the math vocabulary of the ELs. The Frayer model graphic organizer speaks to the visual learner style of most ELs and allows for the students to make connections. Using an interactive journal, will provide the ELs with an opportunity to express how he/she feels about math and its vocabulary while giving them a chance to use the words. In the literature research, different acronyms were used to refer to non-native speakers of English. In Georgia, they are referred to as ELs (English Learner). ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) is the program for ELs. I am the only ESOL teacher for this …show more content…
The EL population faces complex challenges in needing to simultaneously acquire English language proficiency (ELP) and achieve academic success in subject matter content. (Kim and Herman, 2009) Researchers have pointed out that much needs to be done to teach these students to learn content and concurrently learn English. (Protacio, 2012) Motivation and engagement are huge factors for students learning material. Training teachers to teach this population is also a factor. According to the National Center for Education (1997), only 29.5 per cent of teachers of ELs have formal training in strategies for teaching English language learners. (Rodriquez, Ringer, O’Neal and Bunn, 2009) Often times these students have the odds stacked against them. This population has frequent moves, which in turn causes large gaps in their learning. Many of these families face poverty, which is also a factor for non-ELs academic success. Most of all they face the issue of language and cultural barriers. Teachers tend to give up on these children before they even get started. The school climate should be an atmosphere for learning. It includes the feeling people have about school and whether or not it is a place they can feel learning can be done. A positive school climate makes where both staff and students want to spend substantial portion of their time. It is a good place to be. (Rodriquez, Ringer, O’Neal, and Bunn, 2009)

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