Learning the Language of Math While Learning English - A Pi Day Podcast

Published: Mar 12 2021

When Enkeleda Gjoni’s students enter her math class, learning geometry is the least of their problems. One hundred percent of her students are English Language Learners, as was Enkeleda when she immigrated from Albania with “only her education.” Two decades later, she holds two master’s degrees and models for her students what is possible – especially for someone who is competent in mathematics.

Today we’re learning from Enkeleda Gjoni, 2019 Fund for Teachers Fellow and math teacher at Boston International High School, where 100% of her students are English Language Learners. The daughter of a teacher, Enkeleda is originally from Albania, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Education and Mathematics. She immigrated to the United States two decades ago knowing no English and now holds one master's degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the other in Teaching Mathematics from Harvard University. She is also a member of the English Learners Success Forum, an Edvestor’s Math Fellow, an advisory board member for the Better Math Teaching Network and member of the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment. With her Fund for Teachers grant, Enkeleda investigated the connection between math, history, and art through research of the Parthenon, Acropolis, theaters, and churches in Greece to deepen knowledge of Greek mathematicians and founders of math (such as Euclid, Pythagoras, and Archimedes) and create hands-on, multidisciplinary projects for students and the wider educational community. In advance of Pi Day (March 14, 3.14) I was curious about how Enkeleda became a math teacher and, particularly, how she engages non-native speakers with mathematical equations.