Students in the US especially struggle with math. Looking for reasons why may be one way to address the problem, but this approach won't help in the here and now. Instead, teachers must make do with less as far as manipulatives, books, technology, general supplies, etc. Add to this mix, the presence of growing numbers of ELLs (ESL students) in classrooms. Teachers struggle with ways to make math (and all the other subject areas) accessible without watering down the curriculum.
So, how can teachers turn the abstract into concrete? Turn negative learning experiences into positive ones. Raise test scores along with self-confidence in not only ELLs, but also native speakers of English. Set up a math center in your classroom at any grade level. One computer with access to the internet would be enough to use the following site: Math Videos, Math Games, Word Problems And Much More.
Any school content presented and reinforced through technology makes even the most difficult assignment less threatening for all kids. This site is geared to grades Kindergarten through 8th, but could be used in high school ELD/ESL classes with ease (especially the algebra activities/videos).
Take a look at it and see if it works for your classroom:)
ELL TEACHER PROS