Math and Science Strategies for English Learners with Learning Disabilities


  • Patricia Peterson
  • Gae Johnson
  • Stephen Showalter


Students with learning disabilities have significantly lower achievement in math and science than students from the general population. If these students with learning disabilities also are English Learners, the challenges for success in math and science are even more difficult. Teachers need to infuse best practices into their classrooms to support the learning of all students. These practices include, but are not limited to, the following: developing conversational language that bridges the gap to academic language; focusing on the academic languages of math and science that contain specific vocabulary terms and everyday conversational terms with different academic meaning; implementing verbal scaffolding, procedural scaffolding, and instructional scaffolding to facilitate cognitive connections; connecting new math and science content to student experiences; providing visual learning experiences with hands-on learning; using concrete materials and strategies; and providing writing and vocabulary enrichment activities. The strategies and methods presented are a beginning point for teachers and represent good teaching practices for all students.