Q&A #19270

ESL students and word problems

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From: Claire (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jan 27, 2008 at 22:23:03
Subject: Re: ESL students and word problems

Hi, Susan --

Thanks for writing to T2T. We get a lot of questions about how to teach
children to solve word problems. 

The first thing to consider is whether the child fully understands the
problem -- what relevant information is given and what is being asked.
Is the problem in written form? Do the children have the same difficulty when
is is read aloud to them? Sometimes when your goal is to help children learn
the math, you may need to do whatever you can to eliminate reading issues.

To check that they understand the problem, have them paraphrase the problem
-- retell it in their own words.

Have them tell what the important information is in the problem. Make sure
they can articulate what they are supposed to be solving.

Get them to draw the pictures to illustrate the problem.
Use a number line or hundred grid.
Have them get actively involved in modeling the problem, acting it out,
modeling it with manipulatives.
Present the same story with smaller numbers.
After you model examples, have them make up some problems that require the
skills and concepts you've been working on.
Having children use the language themselves, both spoken and written, is
critical if it is to become their own.

I hope these ideas are helpful. Please write again if you have more questions.

 -Claire, for the T2T service

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