20 Math and ELA Tools that Support English Language Learners (2024)

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20 Math and ELA Tools that Support English Language Learners (1)

As part of our #SupportELL series, we have summarized some products, services and tools that support English Language Learners (ELLs) and their teachers. To gather information from education technology companies, Getting Smart invited education technology companies to fill out a form to provide information on their ELL adaptations.
This is not an endorsem*nt of any particular product, tool or service. When making decisions about specific tools for teachers and students, we strongly encourage research and application demonstrations for applicability in your context, as well as alignment to current new state standards.
If you would like to join the conversation and share other tools, please use #SupportELLon social media to contribute specific technology-enabled tools.
We know tech tools, when integrated with other research-backed instructional practices, can support ELLs.Consider the following user case study:

Math Supports for ELLs

Students at Dunbar Elementary School are given access to computers and use DreamBox Learningfor closing gaps in math. All students, regardless of academic achievement, work together using DreamBox Learning. Students of various abilities are able to work at their own pace. This district approach is part of what they call the Grade Level Proficiency Project(GLPP).

“The independent math assessment, Let’s Go Learn, documented incredible progress from January 2014 to May 2014 for students in the GLPP: 91 percent of second-graders were at second- or third-grade level—up from 65 percent—and 93 percent of third-graders were at third- or fourth- grade level—up from 43 percent. Principal Blake of Dunbar Elementary summed up her assessment of the program, ‘In my 31 years in education, this is one of the most exciting programs in which I have been involved. Already I have teachers coming up to me asking when they can be trained, get involved and be part of the GLPP model. Schools need many kinds of teaching, many kinds of technology tools and many kinds of practices to ensure all students are at grade level in reading and math by the third grade. GLPP is the model to get us there. I am grateful beyond measure for the support and opportunity to reach this goal.’”

The following table includes a list of tools and products, a brief description, their typical use (Supplemental, Intervention or Core Curriculum).

Tool/ProductBrief DescriptionIdeal UseUse(1)Grade Level(s)
Achieve 3000A patented, cloud-based solution that delivers daily differentiated instruction for nonfiction reading and writing that’s tailored to each student’s Lexile® reading level. Accommodates ELLs through differentiated instruction and accelerated learning. Further supports language growth with a standards-aligned custom curriculum that integrates phonics and fluency practice.Used in a mainstream classroom, this is often used in a flex rotation model, where teachers can work with small groups of students. Students take initial Lexile reading tests to determine groupings.S/I2-12
DreamBox Learning MathDreamBox Learning Math combines Pre-K-8 math curriculum in English and Spanish with a game-like learning environment and real-time feedback for each student. For ELLs, DreamBox Math provides visual interactive tutorials, embedded vocabulary, guided audio/ visual support and formative assessments.Typical use is as part of a blended learning model, but schools see increased learning outcomes across all implementation models.SPreK-8
Mirrors & Windows(EMC)Mirrors & Windows is a diverse English Language Arts program that covers reading, writing, speaking, listening and language (grammar and vocabulary). The program provides a differentiated instruction supplement for ELLs which includesguided reading questions, vocabulary development lessons, speaking and listening activities, fluency assessments, and selection summaries in Spanish with audio support. Also, ELL-specific activities are annotated in the Teacher’s Edition margins.Mirrors & Windows English Language Learner support is designed to be used in the regular 6-12 English Language Arts classroom as differentiated instruction for non-native English speakers.C6-12
Eureka Math (EngageNY Math)Math curriculum that spans 14 grade levels and is fully aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Currently working in conjunction with New York State Education Department (NYSED) to translate the curriculum modules into the top 5 languages spoken in New York State: Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Bengali, and Haitian Creole.Eureka Math is a complete and coherent curriculum that can be used as a primary curriculum across all grade levels.CPre-K-12
Escalate English(HMH)The specific ELL tools emphasize strong language, literacy and communication development through engaging and empowering lessons and activities.Can be used in daily instruction for ELD.C4-8 for this specific product
Lexia Reading Core5An adaptive, personalized reading program designed for students of all abilities. Core5 is designed to support ELL users through a scope and sequence with adaptive branching in all of the lessons that includes direct instruction if the student struggles with an activity. Core5 also supports ELL students through the provision of directions and instructions in six languages: Spanish, Haitian-Creole, Arabic, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Vietnamese. Vocabulary strategies are emphasized and include picture and verbal supports as well as off-line instructional resources.In the classroom for 20-80 minutes each week.S/IPre-K-5
LightSail EducationAn adaptive reading platform with access to over 80,000 literary titles. ELL students access an embedded dictionary with Spanish and Mandarin translations, hundreds of Spanish language texts, and text-to-speech functionality.Ideally, students spend at least 25 minutes each day on LightSail.SK-12
My Math by McGraw-HillThe McGraw-Hill My Math Program has adopted three levels of language proficiency: Emerging, Expanding and Bridging used by the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessments Consortium (WIDA). The program provides techniques for differentiating instruction to accomodate all learners, including ELL students.Ideally, students use both online and in-person instruction with tools.CK-12
NewselaAn online collection of daily news articles from media sources. The platform and content allows ELLs to access relevant non-fiction content in both English and Spanish and at 5 different reading levels. ELLs can toggle between different levels in English and Spanish. Content is accompanied by standards- aligned quizzes. so teachers can track student progress.To be used daily in the classroom to build reading comprehension and literacy while providing an engaging way for students to learn about the world around them.S2-12
QuillEnglish grammar activities for K-12 students covering 42 language standards. Quill offers verb tense activities targeted at ELLs. They are about to launch a text to speech feature so that students can listen to the text while reading.Teachers use as a “do now” activity at the beginning or end of class.S3-10
Read 180A comprehensive blended learning solution that provides strategic reading intervention in three stages, each with age-appropriate content. Read 180 has solutions for ELLs through inclusion of explicit academic language instruction, opportunities for structured academic discussion, scaffolded writing techniques and added teacher support.A flexible rotation model designed to help teachers address students at all levels of intervention. Districts can successfully implement READ 180 in a single, extended or double period with up to 27 students per class.S/I4-12+
ReadWorksFree, research-based content, teacher guidance and integrated tools for teaching reading comprehension. Some specific ELL adaptations include: images that accompany passages; images that support specific academic vocabulary words at the lowest reading levels; images that are incorporated into the lowest level question sets; graphic organizers associated with lessons and units; Spanish cognates (where applicable) in vocabulary support offering; questions focusing on signal words and syntax as part of most recent question set template; audio versions of texts (currently in development); and a growing number of visual and multimedia supports.Allows for an incredible amount of flexibility in use. Can be used as a supplement or main resource for reading comprehension materials and curriculum. Ideally, teachers should have all their students, including ELLs, read at least one nonfiction article every day.SK-12
i-Readyi-Ready is an adaptive diagnostic and growth measure-targeted assessment of grade-level standards and individualized student online instruction. i-Ready helps teachers deliver differentiated instruction for ELLs and incorporates several forms of automated support via audio, visual, and tactile components such as physical cues (like pointing or facial expressions), symbolic cues (like pictures and icons) and auditory cues (like asking a question).Case by case, based on the proficiency level of the students. Students of the same or similar proficiency level can be placed together in a small group, while classrooms that have more heterogeneous ELL designations would be using i-Ready on an individual basis at the student’s pace.S/IK-8
Reasoning MindAn online algebra-readiness mathematics program. There is a Spanish language glossary. Implementation Coordinators that assist teachers can also provide guidance, such as partnering students.Online curriculum in sequential objectives where teachers monitor formative and summative data to assist students with quick redirections or more in-depth interventions if they are struggling.S2-7
ST Math(MIND Research)Game-based instructional software designed to boost math comprehension and proficiency through visual learning. ST Math supports ELLs as the non-language-based software presents mathematical concepts visually without language to promote greater conceptual understanding.Students of all levels, math proficiency and English language proficiency are able to benefit from ST Math because it is visual and doesn’t rely on language for learning.SPre-K-12
ThinkCERCAA personalized literacy platform that helps teachers grow students’ critical thinking powers in reading and writing with lessons in English language arts, science, social studies and math. All lessons currently feature vocabulary support, topic overviews to support big ideas and development of schemas, fluent and expressive audio readings of all texts, sentence frames to support development of productive academic language, graphic organizers and a structured writing process that helps students organize their thinking and develop conceptual understanding to facilitate comprehension. Starting in the fall of 2016, ThinkCERCA will provide lesson-specific supports for ELL students and their teachers for all applied writing lessons.A whole-team implementation in which students use ThinkCERCA three to five times per month across the curriculum.S


WriteLabAn online writing platform offering immediate and actionable responses to improve writing. For ELLs, graphic organizers can support the writing process from start to finish.Instructors can use WriteLab in the classroom for peer review, and students can use WriteLab from any computer or mobile device.S11-12 + postsecondary
WriteToLearnA literacy tool that provides essay writing to build writing skills, summary writing to develop reading comprehension and vocabulary exercises to expand students’ word knowledge. The tool supports ELLs with ELL-specific essay prompts, translated instructions and feedback in Spanish and Chinese, text-to-speech in English and Spanish, a 4-trait ELL rubric focused on fundamentals of writing plus guided essay tips and summary hints that help scaffold the writing process.Use to support literacy instruction, particularly writing.S4-12
Zeal TutoringZeal offers live tutors for K-8 math.The live tutors use best practices from Rocketship Education best support individual ELL needs though tailored instruction.Small group rotation, whole class 1-1 or lab use.S2-8
ZearnA digital and small group math resource featuring personalized digital lessons and small group teaching and learning for every day of the year. Zearn uses specific instructional strategies to make math content more accessible to English learners, including optional audio support for all questions and prompts, and the ability for students to construct their math using digital manipulatives, which provides them with precise feedback at the exact moment of misunderstanding.Independent Zearn time and teacher-led small group instruction.C


(full K-5 offering coming in the fall)

  1. Typical use: C= Core curriculum, S= Supplemental, I= Intervention

This blog is part of the Supporting English Language Learners Series with support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more, stay tuned for the culminating podcast, infographic and publication.
For more, see:

  • Next-Gen Personalized Learning for ELL Students
  • Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners in Big LA Schools
  • Supporting ELL Students with Automated Writing Feedback

Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update. This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures please see our Partner page.

20 Math and ELA Tools that Support English Language Learners (2)

Bonnie Lathram

Bonnie Lathram is a student advocate and former teacher.

20 Math and ELA Tools that Support English Language Learners (3)

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20 Math and ELA Tools that Support English Language Learners (2024)


How do you support ELL learners in math? ›

  1. 10 Ways to Help ELLs Succeed in Math. ...
  2. 1 Create Vocabulary Banks. ...
  3. 2 Use manipulatives. ...
  4. Modify teacher talk and practice wait time. ...
  5. Elicit nonverbal responses, like a thumbs up or down. ...
  6. Use sentence frames. ...
  7. Design questions and prompts for different proficiency levels. ...
  8. Use prompts to support student responses.

What tool is used to identify English language learners? ›

A home language survey is by far the most common means and tool to determine who might or might not be an English learner (EL). It is intended as a means for determining who should be assessed.

How can I help ELLs with math word problems? ›

Helping ELLs Master the Dreaded Word Problem
  1. Read the entire problem.
  2. Determine what the question is.
  3. Find the information needed to solve the problem.
  4. Determine what operation is necessary to answer the question.
  5. Solve the problem.
  6. Check to make sure the answer is reasonable.

What are three strategies you could use to accommodate ELL students in your classroom? ›

Strategies for increasing comprehensible input include:
  • Read out loud or play audio versions of texts.
  • Front load vocabulary and key concepts before reading.
  • Provide a similar text in the student's first language.
  • Go beyond the textbook and include artwork, videos, guest speakers, stories.
  • Slow down your speech.

Do English language learners need accommodations for math? ›

Math can be a challenging subject area for ELL students, so it's important for teachers to provide accommodations and make adaptations to the curriculum. Some strategies for adapting a math curriculum for ELL students include: Explicitly teaching math vocabulary by using illustrated word walls and the Frayer model.

What are the 4 tools of language? ›

Mango Languages focuses on four components of language learning: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture. The last one is particularly important one, as students shouldn't just memorize a new language but also understand where it's coming from.

How to use tools and techniques for assessment in English language learning? ›

You can use performance-based assessments to assess ELLs' language proficiency and academic achievement through methods such as:
  1. oral reports.
  2. presentations.
  3. demonstrations.
  4. written assignments.
  5. porfolios.
Oct 11, 2021

What are the benefits of integrating ELA into math? ›

Integrating literacy activities into mathematics classes helps clarify concepts and can make mathematics more meaningful and interesting. Teachers can use a wide variety of literature, including trade books, texts and fiction.

How is math involved with language? ›

Because mathematics is the same all over the world, math can act as a universal language. A phrase or formula has the same meaning, regardless of another language that accompanies it. In this way, math helps people learn and communicate, even if other communication barriers exist.

Why do English learners struggle with math? ›

Difficulties that ELLs face when learning mathematics:

Math is not spirally taught in many cultures. So students may not know a lot about geometry, for example. Many students have never seen or worked with manipulatives. They may not take a lesson using manipulatives seriously.

What strategies could you use to help your ELLs gain academic language? ›

Experts suggest taking a four-pronged approach when teaching academic language to ELs by providing opportunities for these students to learn the terminology through listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This is best practice with all students, but especially students who are not native English speakers.

What are accommodations for ELL students? ›

ELL students should be provided equitable access to the curriculum through the use of accommodations. Some accommodations to provide for ELL students in reading include reduced reading load, vocabulary instruction, pre-reading strategies, graphic organizers, and reading strategies.

What are the strategies for ELA? ›

There are several common strategies used by ELA (English language arts) teachers. These may include differentiating and predicting, reciprocal teaching, questioning and clarifying, and summarizing.

What is the 7 step strategy for ELL? ›

The seven steps are: (1) Reading and/or listening to a story; (2) Defining and visualizing words; (3) Identifying parts of speech; (4) Categorizing words; (5) Completing cloze activities; (6) Producing a skit or creating a visual; and (7) Playing a word game with new words.

What are some modifications for ELL students? ›

ESL Modifications Checklist
  • Speak slowly, clearly, and use gestures.
  • Simplify language; avoid idioms, slang, and sarcasm.
  • Pair student with a buddy.
  • Give preferential seating.
  • Maintain routines with consistent signals.
  • Write clearly and legibly (most ELL's cannot read cursive)
  • Give both oral AND written directions.

What are examples of math accommodations? ›

For math, some common accommodations include providing math tools such as rulers and compasses, allowing students to use graphic organizers to organize their thoughts, and breaking down math problems into smaller steps.

What does an ELL student need? ›

A proper assessment of your ELLs' needs will identify their:
  • Home language preferences.
  • Educational background.
  • English proficiency level.
  • Academic content knowledge in English.

What are the 4 skills in learning English language? ›

Each of the 4 skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing has an important role to play.

What are the four basic skills need to be developed in English language learning? ›

When we say that someone 'speaks' a language fluently, we usually mean that they have a high level in all four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

What are the 5 English skills? ›

We have put together five of the most important language skills to anyone interested in international hotel management.
  • Reading and Comprehension. ...
  • Good Listening Skills. ...
  • Public Speaking. ...
  • Writing. ...
  • The Ability to Communicate in More than One Language.

What are the tools and techniques? ›

A tool is a specific, tangible item such as a template or software program, used in performing an activity to produce a product or result. A technique is a defined systematic procedure to produce one or more outputs, which may also use one or more tools.

Which one of the tool is used for language assessment? ›

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is the international standard for defining the proficiency of language learners. On a six-point scale of ability, it describes what learners should be able to as they progress in language learning.

What are three examples of tools to use for assessment for learning? ›

Assessment tools aid in assessing and evaluating student learning and can provide different options to assess students beyond the traditional exam. Several tools are available including grading rubrics , Canvas Assignments , plagiarism detection, self-assessment, and peer assessment, surveys, and classroom polling.

What are the 5 assessment tools? ›

Six types of assessments are:
  • Diagnostic assessments.
  • Formative assessments.
  • Summative assessments.
  • Ipsative assessments.
  • Norm-referenced assessments.
  • Criterion-referenced assessments.
Sep 24, 2021

What are the four types of assessment tools? ›

A Guide to Types of Assessment: Diagnostic, Formative, Interim, and Summative.

What are the different types of materials used in language teaching? ›

Types of Teaching-Learning Material
  • Visuals Aids: Blackboard, Posters, Flashcards, Presentations, Printed textbooks, Graphs and Infographics.
  • Audio Aids: Radio, Tape-recorder and CDs.
  • Audio-visual aids: Videos, Video recordings, Films and Documentaries, Virtual Classrooms.
  • Language Laboratory.

How do you connect literacy to math? ›

One way to incorporate literacy with math is to do a math-based read-aloud with your students. While reading, stop to ask questions and discuss the book. This can spark problem-solving conversations among students. They will have so much fun with math-related conversations!

Why is ELA more important than math? ›

Scientists at the University of Washington discovered that having a talent for mastering languages is a better predictor for learning to code than basic numeracy or math knowledge. Are you interested in learning to program? It might be more beneficial to exercise your language skills than mastering mathematics.

How do you integrate math with other subjects? ›

One way to integrate inquiry-based math learning with literacy is to use books, stories, poems, or articles that involve mathematical ideas or problems. You can ask students to read, discuss, and write about the texts, and then pose questions or challenges that require them to apply their math skills and strategies.

What are the 3 types of mathematical language? ›

Burns (n.d) mentioned three characteristics of mathematical language. These are being precise, being concise, and being powerful. Precision of mathematical language means the language is able to make very fine distinctions about and between things. Conciseness is the ability to say things briefly.

What are the 4 basic concepts of mathematical language and symbols? ›

There are four basic concepts considered in mathematical language. These are set, relation, function, and binary operations.

What is an example of a mathematical language? ›

For example, the Greek letter 'pi', written π, is used to represent the number 3.14159.... This number continues forever without repeating. We often use α ('alpha'), β ('beta'), and θ ('theta') to represent angles. The positioning of numbers and symbols in relation to each other also gives meaning.

What is the connection between reading and math? ›

The math and reading connection exists because both require an ability to read and comprehend. Strong reading and comprehension skills are necessary to extract important pieces of information, dismiss that which is extraneous, and to draw conclusions. In math, drawing conclusions involves finding the solution.

How does math help with writing? ›

Math is a powerful tool that will help you create more compelling narratives. Even if you never use any numbers in your writing, a familiarity with mathematical concepts can have enormous benefits. Many writers condition themselves to be fearful of mathematics. It's important for writers to resist that inclination.

How to integrate English with other subjects? ›

Brainstorm and list activities around the theme you have selected. You should then focus on the English language learning in activities. Talk with subject teachers about suitable activities and collectively decide on the vocabulary and communication skills that you want students to develop.

How do you teach math to English learners? ›

How to teach math to ESL students
  1. Build on existing knowledge. ...
  2. Incorporate visual aids. ...
  3. Create English-based math problems. ...
  4. Use cardinal and ordinal forms. ...
  5. Warm up with vocabulary words. ...
  6. Utilize English-based worksheets. ...
  7. Require sentence frames. ...
  8. Support with manipulatives.

Is there a correlation between math and English? ›

Mathematics scores increase simultaneously with English proficiency but inversely with grade level. Grade level moderates the influence of English proficiency on mathematics scores.

What are some examples of accommodations that are provided for ELLs on assessments? ›

Provide word banks. Instruct student to match items. Have student complete fill-in-the-blank exercises with the word list provided . Give multiple-choice tests.

What are the four accommodations? ›

Accommodations are typically grouped into four categories: presentation, response, setting, and timing and scheduling.

What do ELL students struggle with in the classroom? ›

Being unable to communicate with their teachers and peers can cause the student to feel isolated or even make them a target for bullies. This can have long-term effects on their self-confidence and ability to integrate into society.

What are some of the factors that affect ELLs success in mathematics? ›

Difficulties that ELLs face when learning mathematics:

formation of numbers varies from culture to culture • use of decimal point and comma vary from culture to culture • Students have no experience with our measurement system; it is an abstract to them. Math is not spirally taught in many cultures.

What are interventions for ELL students? ›

One of the best interventions for ELL students is small group instruction or partnered activities. Small groups provide a safe environment for the student.

What are examples of language supports? ›

Also important for ensuring student success is for instructors to provide supports, examples of which are offered below.
  • Manipulatives. ...
  • Word Walls. ...
  • Real Objects, Pictures, or Graphics. ...
  • Cooperative Learning. ...
  • Building on Background Knowledge. ...
  • Reading Aloud Interactively. ...
  • Labels. ...
  • Technology.

What are examples of mathematical language? ›

For example, the Greek letter 'pi', written π, is used to represent the number 3.14159.... This number continues forever without repeating. We often use α ('alpha'), β ('beta'), and θ ('theta') to represent angles. The positioning of numbers and symbols in relation to each other also gives meaning.

What are the similarities between math and English language? ›

Thus English and mathematics as languages are similar and yet different. They both are languages of signs and symbols which combine to “words” “sentences” and “stories”. These “stories”have a grammar, which is universal and hence makes them languages of international communication.

What more do ELLs need in order to develop good literacy skills? ›

ELLs need direct instruction for new vocabulary words, as well as multiple opportunities to interact and use the words in writing and speaking. Beginning readers must use the words they hear orally to make sense of the words they sound out.

What are the 6 major intervention strategies? ›

6 steps to create an effective interventions strategy
  • Step 1: Define the outcome. ...
  • Step 2: Carefully plan your intervention. ...
  • Step 3: Start small. ...
  • Step 4: Scale up your intervention. ...
  • Step 5: Make sure you're monitoring progress. ...
  • Step 6: Share best practice!

What are the 5 intervention strategies? ›

Let's take a look at the most commonly used intervention strategies:
  • Behavioural Interventions. ...
  • Collaborative Interventions. ...
  • One-to-One Interventions. ...
  • Classroom-Based Interventions. ...
  • Social, Emotional and Wellbeing Interventions. ...
  • Peer Tutoring. ...
  • Metacognition and Self-Regulation. ...
  • Homework.
Jul 9, 2021

What are some of the strategies supports that can be used to help Ells gain proficiency in social studies? ›

Some strategies for accommodating ELL students in social studies include building background knowledge, pre-teaching vocabulary, promoting interactive reading and peer interactions, and using supplemental materials during instruction.

Which strategies were good language learners found to use? ›

Good language learners pay attention to meaning. They have good techniques to practice listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They push themselves to speak and try to become fluent. They look for opportunities to talk with native speakers.

How do you create lesson plans that meet the needs of ELL students? ›

Strategies for instruction
  1. Write an ELL-friendly definition for each and post them where students can see them throughout the lesson.
  2. Try different strategies to teach each word. ...
  3. Give students ample opportunities to practice each new word both in oral and written languages.


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