Emile Education is a TESOL resource that can support those students for whom English is not their first language. It is often language that acts as a barrier to their understanding. The difficulty they experience in negotiating the language to access the mathematical concepts can be misinterpreted. Mathematics is a highly compressed and abstract symbolic language.
Moreover, mathematics often requires learners to use everyday words that may have different meanings within a mathematical setting. Stages 2,3 and 4 are particularly useful for students with EAL where visuals, spellings and word bank are used to understand the language.
The mathematics curriculum requires that children engage in problem-solving and can explain their reasoning as well as becoming fluent in using appropriate procedures with understanding. Locating mathematical concepts in a concrete context provides opportunities for children to explore, consolidate and re-visit subject content. It provides a meaningful and purposeful context to develop their language skills. This is especially useful for TEFL in a fun academic way.
The games enable children with EAL to see, read and hear the language in a variety of different ways, using the visuals to support their understanding. The games also allow children to re-visit the mathematical topics and language, helping to reinforce and consolidate both subject and language learning. One of the key benefits of game-based learning is that games allow children to learn through play and failure without any fear or loss of confidence.
The games provide visuals to support the development of children’s understanding of the ‘big ideas’ of mathematics whilst providing opportunities for children to use language to demonstrate their understanding. Research has shown that connecting mathematics and language learning can have significant cognitive benefits, promoting higher order thinking skills.
The potential of game-based learning to promote learner engagement and motivation is widely recognised and research suggests that children with EAL enjoy playing the games. They say that playing games make them think and helps them to learn. The children also commented that playing games gave them time to think and to play at their own pace. This clearly indicates the potential of game-based learning to foster learner autonomy.