Maths with EAL Learners


I have been co-teaching and planning some specific lessons for Year 10 EAL learners in Maths. I thought I would share with you some of the strategies and approaches that I have used that have been particularly effective.

In the classroom resources section of my website I have also uploaded two lessons that are delivered. You can access them by clicking on these links:

In both lessons that I delivered I have found a few common approaches and strategies that I have believe were particularly effective.

Firstly, pre-teaching vocabulary. It is essential that vocabulary related to the lesson is highlighted and used in meaningful contexts. I have used a range of strategies to do this. These include a ‘Knowledge Rating Scale’ which you can find more information about by clicking on this link. A knowledge rating scale is a good vocabulary strategy that enables you as a teacher to check the prior knowledge that your EAL learners have for particular key words. EAL learners have to rank words according to their knowledge of them. If you notice that there are gaps in their knowledge then those words should be explicitly taught. It is essential when teaching EAL learners Maths that vocabulary instruction is done. In addition, that vocabulary instruction should not be a passive activity in which learners just copy definitions. A wide range of strategies and approaches should be used to ensure that EAL learners are active participants in learning new vocabulary.

Secondly, barrier activities that involve communication which can be both verbal and non verbal. These types of activities where there are gaps in what each learner has and they have to communicate with each other both verbally and non-verbally, are extremely effective strategies to use with EAL learners. For the lesson that I used a barrier activity in, my learners were able to use both verbal and non-verbal forms of communication. This proved a highly effective activity because it allowed the learners to interact with each other and use language that we essential to understanding the content.

Thirdly, using spoken language. As well as the barrier activities mentioned in the previous paragraph, the use of spoken language in a wide array of approaches should be encouraged at all times. Spoken language is an essential part of language learning and that is the same for Maths as any other subject or content area. There are a wide range of spoken language activities that can be used, some of which you can find in my classroom strategies section here.

Lastly, visuals. Visuals play an essential role in any lesson for EAL learners and that is just the same in Maths. Visuals for EAL learners should be concrete and should take into account the cultural background of your learners. Those visuals should also be directly related to the content of the lesson and should act as a scaffold to support the learning.

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