Issues of Language and Mathematics: Contexts and Sense-Making in Word Problem-Solving

Percy Sepeng

Abstract


The purpose of the study reported here is to explore issues of language and mathematics and to gain more understanding of the role of both home language (isiXhosa) and language of learning and teaching (LoLT) [English] when 9th grade learners engage in problem-solving and sense-making of wor(l)d problems in senior primary mathematics classrooms. The study can be viewed as a mixed method design with quantitative data informing the qualitative results. Analysis of the data generated from a test suggests that the language of both a learner and that used in a mathematical word problem tasks impact on the way the tasks are interpreted. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that the learners’ problem-solving skills in English is by far adequate compared to isiXhosa during problem-solving. However, learners abilities to consider reality when solving real wor(l)d problems appeared to be marginally better in isiXhosa compared to English. Analysis of learners’ interviews illustrates that, although English is the preferred LoLT, they proposed a dual-use and/or parallel-use of English and isiXhosa for teaching and learning mathematics.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2013.v4n13p51


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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)

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