20 SES 12 JS B, Roundtable-Significant Insights into Teaching and Learning Mathematics in Bilingual Classrooms: Examples from Brittany, Catalonia, New Zealand and Ireland
Joint Session with NW 24
This presentation will examine and discuss results from diverse investigations about mathematics education and language diversity. The authors have carried out research in their bilingual contexts where one of the local official languages is the only language of instruction (e.g. Catalan in Catalonia-Spain) or where the two official local languages are recognized (e.g. Breton and French in Brittany-France; Gaeilge and English in Ireland; Maori and English in New-Zealand). It is often perceived that bilingual students experience a disadvantage in learning mathematics due to an assumed interference between their two languages. However, emerging research in the mathematics context is demonstrating that bilingualism does have a positive effect on performance in mathematics. Clarkson (2007) has suggested that proficient bilingualism enhances students’ meta-cognitive skills in mathematics and allows students to think more effectively about their mathematical thinking. This idea is supported by experimental research in psycholinguistics (for a review see Moschkovich, 2007).
Within the Irish context, research undertaken demonstrates positive advantages for mathematical learning once an appropriate threshold has been reached in both (Gaeilge and English) languages (Ní Ríordáin & McCluskey 2012; Ní Ríordáin & O’ Donoghue, 2009). Bilingual students outperformed their monolingual (English) peers in mathematics assessments at primary, secondary and third level education. These studies reinforce that (bilingual) language competencies and mathematics performance are related, and contributes to the development of enhanced mathematical skills. In the Catalonia-Spain context, data has been collected in several Catalan and Spanish bilingual mathematics classrooms for more than ten years. The uses of the students’ languages in the learning of mathematics, particularly for cases in which the home language is different from the language of instruction, points to bilingual students critically challenging the language of instruction and/or the mainstream culture in the school context. Furthermore, several learning opportunities have been documented to be provided by the teacher when allowing students to work in groups where they can decide themselves what language to talk. More generally, investigations in this research setting (see, for instance, Planas, 2012, Planas & Civil, 2013) illuminate the creation of teaching and learning opportunities through bilingual teaching and linguistically responsive mathematical tasks. In the New Zealand context, Maori medium schools have been established whereby mathematics can be learned in Maori up to the end of schooling. A significant amount of language development and resources have been undertaken to enhance the teaching and learning of mathematics through the medium of Maori (see, for instance Barton, 2008). New research in this field of study is currently being undertaken in Brittany-France where the Breton language is now promoted as one of the languages of instruction in some schools through the medium of immersion or bilingual classes. This investigation will focus on the teaching of number at primary school given the significant difference of the numeration system in French and in Breton, while drawing upon the other studies to inform research processes.
Barton, B. (2008). The Language of Mathematics – Telling Mathematical Tales, Education Library, Vol. 46., New York: Springer. Bernaus, M., Kervran, M., Furlong, A., Jonkeere, S.( 2011). Plurilingualism in content-based teaching, Strasbourg / Graz: Council of Europe/European Centre for Modern Language. Clarkson, P. C. (2007) ‘Australian Vietnamese students learning mathematics: High ability bilinguals and their use of their languages’, Educational Studies in Mathematics, 64(2), pp. 191-215. Gueudet, G., Pepin, B. & Trouche, L. (2012) From text to 'Lived ressources': Mathematics Curriculum Material and Teacher Development. New York: Springer. Moschkovich, J. (2007). ‘Using two languages when learning mathematics’, Educational Studies in Mathematics, 64(2), pp. 121-144. Ní Ríordáin, M. & O’ Donoghue, J. (2009). The relationship between performance on mathematical word problems and language proficiency for students learning through the medium of Irish, Educational Studies in Mathematics, 71(1), pp.43-64. Ní Ríordáin, M. & McCluskey, A. (2012). ‘The influence of bilingualism on mathematical problem solving at third level education in Ireland’, paper presented at ICME-12, Seoul, South Korea, 8th – 15th July 2012. Planas, N. (2012). Heteroglossia and “orchestration” in multilingual mathematics classrooms. In H. Forgasz & F. Rivera (Eds.), Advances in Mathematics Education. Toward equity: Gender, culture, and diversity (pp. 333-348). New York: Springer Planas, N., & Civil, M. (2013). Language-as-resource and language-as-political: Tensions in the bilingual mathematics classroom. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 25(1), 5-28.
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