Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 91, Issue 3, pp 307–326 | Cite as

The interplay between language, gestures, dragging and diagrams in bilingual learners’ mathematical communications



This paper discusses the importance of considering bilingual learners’ non-linguistic forms of communication for understanding their mathematical thinking. In particular, I provide a detailed analysis of communication involving a pair of high school bilingual learners during an exploratory activity where a touchscreen-based dynamic geometry environment (DGE) was used. The paper focuses on the word-use, gestures and dragging actions in student-pair communication about calculus concepts as they interacted with a touchscreen-based DGE. Findings suggest that the students relied on gestures and dragging as non-linguistic features of the mathematical discourse to communicate dynamic aspects of calculus. Moreover, by examining the interplay between language, gestures, dragging and diagrams, it was possible to identify bilingual learners’ competence in mathematical communications. This paper raises questions about new forms of communication mobilised in dynamic, touchscreen environments, particularly for bilingual learners.


Thinking as communicating Non-linguistic communication Bilingual learners Dynamic geometry environment Touchscreen dragging 



My thanks go to the anonymous students that participated in the study. Without their passionate collaboration, this study would have been impossible. I am also very thankful to Dr. Nathalie Sinclair for her continual guidance and support since 2011.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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