Listen to Arnulfo Velasquez on Arizona Spotlight:

Download as MP3

Arnulfo Velasquez, math teacher at Roskruge Billingual Magnet Middle School, has been in the field for about 50 years. He's taught mostly in bilingual classrooms.

He said when students don't know how to speak English well, and they are in the process of improving their English skills, difficult tests, such as AIMS, such tests become more language focused. They may be good at math and other topics, but the language barrier is a thick wall standing in their way.

"We need to make sure we have the tools to correctly assess our students, and know exactly their level of mathematical understanding, otherwise we'll continue failing on educating many of these language learning students in our classrooms," he said.

Most of his students, if not all, are bilingual -English and Spanish speakers, Velasquez said.

"So, to serve those student, and to make our math education an enriched experience for them, we have to use both languages and alternate them during the week or (even) during the day," he said. "The needs of those students are different than those who have only one language (as a tool)."

Velasquez also uses music and songs to help students with their mathematical skills.

"(For instance), I've had a positive experience using songs for students to remember the order of operations," he said.

American Graduate segments were produced in corporation with Tucson Values Teachers.

American Graduate 2013 main page.