Student use of language in French immersion mathematics

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
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Author: Tang, Monica
There is a challenge in juxtaposing the principles of numeracy, which is grounded in language-based problem-solving, with those of a French Immersion program, which promotes bilingualism and communicative approaches. This case study examines the written output from mathematical problem-solving situations of 27 grade 6/7 students from a French Immersion middle school class. A qualitative analysis was performed and revealed that students use language in a wide range of ways to communicate mathematical ideas. Two themes emerged. First, students tend to vary along a narrative-symbolic continuum. Second, individuals differ in the ways in which French affects communication, ranging from a lack of competence in their second language, to obscuring their mathematical understanding, to their various motivations for codeswitching. In conclusion, language use depends upon personal styles, abilities and the perception of the roles of the mathematical, French and English languages. Educators need to accept the ramifications of these forms of plurilingualism.
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