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Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 317–340 | Cite as

Science education in a bilingual class: problematising a translational practice

  • Zeynep Ünsal
  • Britt Jakobson
  • Bengt-Olov Molander
  • Per-Olof Wickman
Original Paper

Abstract

In this article we examine how bilingual students construe relations between everyday language and the language of science. Studies concerning bilingual students language use in science class have mainly been conducted in settings where both the teacher and the students speak the same minority language. In this study data was collected in a class consisting of students aged 13–14. All students had Turkish as their minority language, whereas the teacher’s minority language was Bosnian. The class was observed when they were working with acids and bases. In addition, the students were interviewed in groups. They were asked about how they use their languages during science lessons and then asked to describe and explain scientific phenomena and processes that had been a part of the observed lessons. For the analysis, practical epistemology analysis and the theory of translanguaging were used. The results show how the students’ everyday language repertoire may limit their possibilities to make meaning of science. In particular, the teacher’s practice of facilitating and supporting students’ understanding of science content by relating it to concrete examples took another direction since the everyday words he used were not a part of the students’ language repertoire. The study also shows how the students used their minority language as a resource to translate words from Swedish to Turkish in order to proceed with the science activities. However, translating scientific concepts was problematic and led to the students’ descriptions of the concepts not being in line with how they are viewed in science. Finally, the study also demonstrates how monolingual exams may limit bilingual students’ achievements in science. The study contributes by presenting and discussing circumstances that need to be taken into consideration when planning and conducting science lessons in classes where the teacher and the student do not share the same minority language.

Keywords

Bilingualism Everyday language Scientific language Science education Translanguaging 

Özet

Bu makalede çift dilli öğrencilerin günlük hayatlarında kullandıkları dil ile fen derslerinde kullanılan dilin arasında nasıl bağlantı kurdukları araştırılmaktadır. Çift dilli öğrencilerin fen derslerinde dillerini nasıl kullandıklarını konu alan araştırmalar çoğunlukla öğrencilerin ve öğretmenin ayni dilleri konuştuğu sınıflarda gerçekleştirilmiştir. Bu makalede konu edilen araştırma 13-14 yaşlarında öğrencilerden oluşan bir sınıfta gerçekleşmiştir. Öğrenciler İsveççe dışında ayrıca Türkçe de konuşurken öğretmenin ana dilli Boşnakça olmaktadır. Öğrenciler asitler ve bazlar konusu işlenirken gözlemlenmiştir. Ayrıca, öğrencilerle grup halinde görüşmeler yapılmıştır. Bu görüşmelerde ilk olarak öğrencilere fen dersleri esnasında hem İsveççe’yi hem de Türkçe’yi nasıl kullandıkları sorulmuştur. Daha sonra öğrencilerden gözlemlenen derslerde işlenen bilimsel kavramları ve süreçleri tarif etmeleri ve açıklamaları istenmiştir. Elde edilen veriler pratik epistemolojik analiz ve the theory of translanguaging (translanguaging teorisi) kullanılarak analiz edilmiştir. Öğretmen günlük bir dil kullanarak ve günlük hayattan somut örnekler vererek öğrencilerinin derslerde ele alınan konuları kavrayabilmesine yardımcı olmaya çalışmış, fakat öğrencilerin kullanılan kelimelerin anlamını bilmemeleri öğretmenin bu davranışının yeterli olmamasına neden olmuştur. Araştırma ayrıca böyle durumlarda öğrencilerin derslerde işlenen konuları anlamak için İsveççe’den Türkçe’ye çevirmeler yaptığını göstermektedir. Günlük kelimeleri çevirmek öğrencilere yardım ederken bilimsel kavramları çevirmenin onlar için daha zor olduğu tespit edilmiştir. Bazı durumlarda öğrencilerin bilimsel kavramları yanlış çevirmeleri sonucunda bilimle örtüşmeyen tanımlamaların ortaya çıktığı gözlenmiştir. Son olarak bu araştırma, tek dilde yapılan sınavların çift dilli öğrencilerin fen derslerindeki başarılarını sınırlayabileceğini göstermektedir. Bu makale, çift dilli öğrencilere verilecek fen derslerinin planlanması ve uygulanması sırasında dikkate alınması gereken durumları ele alarak fen eğitimi alanına katkıda bulunmaktadır.

Sammanfattning

I denna artikel undersöker vi hur tvåspråkiga elever skapar relationer mellan vardagsspråket och det naturvetenskapliga språket. Studier som behandlar hur tvåspråkiga elever använder sina språk under naturvetenskapslektionerna har huvudsakligen bedrivits i tvåspråkiga klassrum där både läraren och eleverna talar samma minoritetsspråk. I denna studie har data har samlats in i en klass bestående av 13-14 år gamla elever. Samtliga elever hade turkiska som minoritetsspråk medan lärarens minoritetsspråk var bosniska. Klassen observerades när de arbetade med syror och baser. Därefter genomfördes gruppintervjuer med eleverna där de fick berätta om hur de använde sina språk under naturvetenskapslektionerna samt beskriva och förklara naturvetenskapliga fenomen och processer som hade behandlats under de observerade lektionerna. Materialet analyserades genom praktisk epistemologisk analys och teorin om translanguaging (the theory of translanguaging). Studien visar hur lärarens strävan att stödja elevernas lärande i naturvetenskap genom att använda ett vardagligt språk och vardagliga exempel tog en annan riktning eftersom de vardagsord han använde inte var en del av elevernas språkrepertoar. Studien visar också hur eleverna använde sitt minoritetsspråk som en resurs för att översätta ord från svenska till turkiska. Att översätta naturvetenskapliga begrepp var mer problematiskt och ledde till att elevernas beskrivningar av begreppen inte var i linje med hur de betraktas inom naturvetenskapen. Slutligen visar studien även hur enspråkiga prov kan begränsa tvåspråkiga elevers resultat i de naturvetenskapliga ämnena. Undersökningen bidrar med att presentera och diskutera omständigheter som behövs tas i beaktande när man planerar och genomför naturvetenskapliga lektioner i klasser där lärare och elever inte delar samma minoritetsspråk.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zeynep Ünsal
    • 1
  • Britt Jakobson
    • 1
  • Bengt-Olov Molander
    • 1
  • Per-Olof Wickman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mathematics and Science EducationStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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