Why a math game for ESL students is a great idea

Marisol Now that our blogging intern, Diana J, has left us and gone back to school, Marisol Castillo Schultz, our Senior Research Associate will be taking a turn filling in on the blogosphere.

Although our current games are focused on Native American culture, Marisol has been advocating for a while now that we expand our games to include offerings designed for ESL students.

Coming from a background where your parents only know Spanish in an English-speaking country has had its effect on my early learning days. I didn’t learn English until I was in the 3rd grade. Back in the early 90’s it was common for public schools to teach students in Spanish up until a certain grade. Now, obviously schools only teach in English. I can honestly say that art and math were my favorite subjects because they didn’t require language much. It wasn’t until I was put in a class with advanced English-speaking students that my math skills went a bit low. I didn’t understand all of the terms in English but watching my teacher do examples on the board and with help from my dad I managed to pull through.

Although, now a days schools start teaching students in English from the start it doesn’t mean that Spanish-speaking children retain everything because at home they continue to speak Spanish with their parents more than they speak English. This is why a game for ESL students would be very beneficial and successful. Students will be learning math while playing a game and also at the same time be learning some math language in English at school or at home. Another benefit of a bilingual game is that English-speaking children can also learn some Spanish as well. I’d also like to point out that kids love being on their computers more than actually studying or reading a book, so why wouldn’t they want to learn while having fun?

When I have spoken to teachers about their students, it seems that ESL students in any subject are the ones who have lower grades because of their struggle to understand the material in English. We can’t create a game for every subject to help ESL students, but we can definitely do our part in the math field.

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