Math Education Aspects of Students Who Use Two Languages

  • Math Education Aspects of Students Who Use Two Languages

    How Do Students Use Two Languages When Learning Mathematics? Using Two Languages during Computation Clip

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    Overall, strong evidence suggests that bilingualism does not impact mathematical reasoning or problem solving. Bilingual speakers sometimes switch languages when carrying out arithmetic computations. Bilingual adults may have a preferred language for carrying out arithmetic computation, which is usually the language of arithmetic instruction. Reported differences in calculation times between monolingual and bilingual adults were miniscule. Evidence suggests that switching languages for arithmetic computation does not affect the quality of conceptual reasoning. This language switching can be swift, highly automatic, and facilitate rather than inhibit solving word problems in the second language, providing the student's language proficiency is sufficient for understanding the text of the word problem.

    How Do Students Use Two Languages When Learning Mathematics? Using Two Languages during Conversations (Code-Switching) Clip

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    The language ability and language choice of the person addressing a bilingual child are the most significant variables for the child's language choice. Young bilingual students (beyond age 5) speak as they are spoken to. In mathematics classrooms, children will also speak as they are spoken to, depending on the language ability and choice of the person addressing them. We cannot use someone's code-switching to reach conclusions about his or her language proficiency, ability to recall a word, knowledge of a particular technical term, mathematical reasoning, or mathematical proficiency. Research does not support a view of code-switching as a deficit itself or as a sign of deficiency in mathematical reasoning. We should not assume that bilingual students switch into their first language only because they are missing English vocabulary. Rather than viewing code-switching as a deficiency, instruction for bilingual mathematics learners should consider how this practice serves as a resource for communicating mathematically.

    How Do Students Use Two Languages When Learning Mathematics? Does Using Two Languages Impact or Reflect Mathematical Reasoning? Clip

    Overall, there is strong evidence suggesting that bilingualism does not impact mathematical reasoning or problem solving. What does research say about when, how, or why students switch from one language to another? How can research help us understand whether switching languages impacts or reflects mathematical reasoning?

    In mathematics classrooms, students who are bilingual and/or learning English might use two languages during arithmetic computation. There is evidence that adult bilinguals sometimes switch languages when carrying out arithmetic computations and that adult bilinguals may have a preferred language for carrying out arithmetic computation, usually the language of arithmetic instruction. There is some evidence suggesting that switching languages for arithmetic computation does not affect the quality of conceptual reasoning. This language switching can be swift, highly automatic, and facilitate rather than inhibit solving word problems in the second language, providing the student's language proficiency is sufficient for understanding the text of the word problem. These findings suggest that classroom instruction should allow bilingual students to choose the language they prefer for arithmetic computation and ensure that all students understand the text of word problems.

    Students might also use two languages during classroom conversations, what linguist call code-switching. In mathematics classrooms children will use one or another language depending on the language ability and choice of the person addressing them. We cannot use someone's code-switching to reach conclusions about their language proficiency, ability to recall a word, knowledge of a particular technical term, mathematical reasoning, or mathematical proficiency. Research does not support a view of code-switching as a deficit itself or as a sign of deficiency in mathematical reasoning. We should not assume that bilingual students switch into their first language only because they are missing English vocabulary. Rather than viewing code-switching as a deficiency, instruction for bilingual mathematics learners should consider how this practice serves as a resource for communicating mathematically.