Math Instruction for Multilingual Learners

Use this guide to help teachers develop key instructional skills and higher expectations to support multilingual learners.

Multilingual learners (MLLs) are one of the fastest-growing student demographics—and one of the least likely to receive consistent access to grade-level work. Closing the growing opportunity gap between MLLs and their peers requires not just giving educators better instructional strategies, but also helping them develop a belief that all MLLs can engage in challenging, grade-level learning with the right supports.

In 2021, TNTP partnered with Stanford University’s Center for Understanding Language (UL) to do just that by piloting a professional learning experience for middle grade math teachers in three California school systems. We worked to provide hands-on training in effective language instructional practices that gave teachers time to apply what they learned with students—and see firsthand what MLL students could accomplish as a result. It’s an approach modeled on TNTP’s successful Good to Great teacher development program, tailored to incorporate UL’s expertise with MLL instruction.

In More Than Right Answers: Math Instruction for Multilingual Learners, we outline the key elements of this training and important lessons we learned.

We’re also offering several free resources to help system leaders, school leaders, and educators implement this approach in their own classrooms:

Teacher Mindset Reflection Tool

Math Language Routines (Stanford University)

Strong Instruction for Multilingual Learners Tool

Language-Focused Teaching Template

Completed Language-Focused Teaching Template

Warm Up Math Routines

Three Reads Strategy

Three Reads Video (Math Language Routine)

Stronger and Clearer Each Time Strategy

Stronger and Clearer Each Time Video (Math Language Routine)

Providing Language-Focused Feedback

Student Work Analysis Tool

Using High-Quality Instructional Materials to Support Language

Download More Than Right Answers
Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

About TNTP

TNTP is the nation’s leading research, policy, and consulting organization dedicated to transforming America’s public education system, so that every generation thrives.

Today, we work side-by-side with educators, system leaders, and communities across 39 states and over 6,000 districts nationwide to reach ambitious goals for student success.

Yet the possibilities we imagine push far beyond the walls of school and the education field alone. We are catalyzing a movement across sectors to create multiple pathways for young people to achieve academic, economic, and social mobility.

Learn More About TNTP