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ERIC Number: EJ853596
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 10
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
Mathematics: The Universal Language?
Hoffert, Sharon B.
Mathematics Teacher, v103 n2 p130-139 Sep 2009
Mathematics is considered the universal language, but students who speak languages other than English have difficulty doing mathematics in English. For instance, because of a lack of familiarity with the problem's context, many have trouble understanding exactly what operations to perform. In the United States, approximately one in seven students speaks a language other than English at home. In 2026, it is estimated, one in four students will not speak English as their primary language (Banks and Banks 2007). Although the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) in the United States has grown at an alarming rate, their academic achievement has lagged behind native English speakers. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has prompted an increased awareness of the need for improved educational settings for ELLs. Under the NCLB, schools are held accountable for pass rates from all subgroups of the school's population, including ELLs, referred to as Limited English Proficient (LEP) in the NCLB. As a result of schools' higher expectations for ELLs to succeed, the question for mathematics teachers is how to teach these students who are just learning English but have to pass the same standardized tests as native speakers. In this article, the author enumerates the challenges faced by teachers and students, strategies used to increase ELL's achievement in mathematics, and the rewards of teaching mathematics to English Language Learners. (Contains 8 figures.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001