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Unlocking the Language of Mathematics

lagerTitle: Unlocking the Language of Mathematics to Ensure our English Learners Acquire Algebra

Author: Carl A. Lager

Date: October 2004

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Each year, tens of thousands of California students fail courses in algebra

In spite of the attention and resources invested in curricula, instruction, and assessment, overall algebra acquisition continues to be painfully slow and inadequate, especially for our state’s English learners. Without a strong command of both common everyday language and specialized mathematical language (in English) California’s English learners cannot fully engage the mathematics content of the lesson or assessment item. Although professional development for mathematics instruction in California includes some specific strategies to address English learners’ needs, the state’s current models scarcely address the range of linguistic issues
hindering English learners’ performance.

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