Mathematics Education Research Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 43–65

Tackling the transition—the English mathematics register and students learning through the medium of Irish

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s13394-011-0003-6

Cite this article as:
Ní Ríordáin, M. & O’Donoghue, J. Math Ed Res J (2011) 23: 43. doi:10.1007/s13394-011-0003-6


The explosion of Gaeilge (Irish)-medium primary and secondary schools has played a crucial role in the rebirth of our native language in Ireland. The popularity of attending Gaeilge-medium education is significant, and continues to increase annually (Gaeilscoileanna Teo 2008). However, the majority of Gaeilgeoirí (students who learn through the medium of Gaeilge) face an imminent transition to English-medium mathematics education, be it at second or third level education. This paper presents a theoretical model for investigating the transfer between different languages for learning mathematics and for interpreting the findings emerging from the Irish context. Key findings include that Gaeilgeoirí at secondary level experience a disadvantage when assessed through the medium of English; at both transitions Gaeilgeoirí experience difficulties with the syntax, semantics, and mathematics vocabulary of the English mathematics register; and at third level Gaeilgeoirí are unaware of the language difficulties that they are experiencing.


Mathematics registerEducational transitionsLanguage mediums for learning mathematicsIrish context

Copyright information

© Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Inc. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. Patrick’s CollegeThurlesIreland
  2. 2.National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and LearningUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland