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5 Tips for Teaching Math Games in a Bilingual Class

Teaching math games is a great way to help students in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade develop their math skills while also keeping them engaged and motivated. This is especially important in bilingual and dual language classrooms, where math games can be used to support language development and reinforce math concepts.

If you need ideas for bilingual math games to implement in your classroom, you can read my blog post on place value games.

Additionally, I have premade games available in Spanish, English, and in bilingual bundles with both. You can find those here or by clicking the image below.

Here are my go-to tips for teaching math games in a bilingual or dual language classroom:

1. Choose games that are adaptable for different levels of language proficiency

Math games that have clear instructions and simple rules can be easily adapted to suit students of different language proficiency levels. This allows students to engage in the game and participate at their own level of comfort. But just because the directions are simple doesn’t mean the rigor isn’t there. In the game Brain vs Calculator, the directions are simple (students race to complete multiplication facts) but the math fluency practice is there. 

how to teach math games in a dual language class

2. Incorporate language learning activities into the games

Use math games as an opportunity to reinforce language learning by incorporating activities that focus on building vocabulary or practicing sentence structure. For example, students could be given sentence frames with the language structures they’ll need to use with their partner while playing the game.

The text on top reads "math games made easy for bilingual classes". Underneath it shows an elementary aged student using base 10 blocks.

3. Provide clear instructions in both languages

To ensure that all students understand how to play the game, provide clear instructions in both languages. This can be done through written instructions, visual aids, or by modeling the game.

Asking for volunteers to demonstrate the game can also be an effective way to help the students understand the concept quickly. Make sure to provide feedback to the volunteers so they can adjust their approach as needed.

In the center there is an image of students in a circle playing the game. Above and below it, the text reads "How to teach math games to dual language students. 5 strategies to get you started"

4. Encourage cooperative play

Math games that require students to work together in pairs or teams can help promote cooperative play and foster language development as students work together to solve problems and communicate their ideas.

5. Ask reflection questions

After gameplay, ask students to reflect on the game. What was their strategy? What helped them to win? What would they do differently next time? 

These questions can spark conversation among students about their experience (which is a great language opportunity!). It may also help them to develop an understanding of tactics and strategies around the math concept. 

Encouraging thoughtful reflection on the game can foster deeper learning and a greater appreciation for the game.

The text reads "5 tips to teach math games in a bilingual classroom"

Get started with math games!

With these tips on teaching math games in bilingual and dual language classrooms, you can make math more fun, interactive, and engaging for students.  As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect,” and math games make learning math more like a game of trial and error, allowing students to strengthen their skills and reinforce their understanding of math – all while having fun!

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