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ERIC Number: EJ868970
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-1073-5836
Is Mathematics a Universal Language?
Whiteford, Tim
Teaching Children Mathematics, v16 n5 p276-283 Dec 2009
Effectively teaching mathematics to speakers of other languages requires teachers to recognize, validate, honor, and support the math that these students have already learned before entering a U.S. classroom. To do so, they must become aware of procedures, types of math instruction, and students' current performance levels. They should be sensitive to cultural math differences that students may be experiencing. They need to make careful decisions as to whether students can continue to use procedures that differ from those taught in U.S. classrooms. They must take care not to assume that a student encountering difficulties in mathematics does so because of limited language proficiency. Once they have considered these issues, teachers can then identify and implement ways of modifying, adapting, or differentiating classroom experiences. In addition to the sample ideas and strategies identified in this article, more extensive strategies exist, such as sheltered instruction. Most of all, teachers ought to celebrate the diversity that English Language Learners bring to U.S. mathematics classrooms: other cultures' numbers, mathematical games, different number bases, and mathematical procedures. Recognizing cultural aspects and variations will help everyone better appreciate the multidimensional nature of mathematics. (Contains 2 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: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A