Between languages and discourses: Language practices in primary multilingual mathematics classrooms in South Africa

Abstract

In this paper we draw on two research projects in South Africa to describe and discuss the language practices of teachers in primary multilingual mathematics classrooms. We focus particularly on code-switching – moving across languages and discourses. We situate the paper in the policy and practice environment of post-apartheid South African education in which code-switching is encouraged. Through our descriptions and discussion, we argue that while at a general political and pedagogical level it makes sense for teachers to encourage and use code-switching as a learning and teaching resource, this is not a straight forward matter. We argue that different English language infrastructures present primary mathematics teachers with different challenges for communicating mathematics. Furthermore, we show how the movement across mathematical discourses relates to movement between languages in classroom communication.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

REFERENCES

  1. Adler, J.: 1996, Secondary Teachers' Knowledge of the Dynamics of Teaching and Learning Mathematics in Multilingual Classrooms, Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Adler, J.: 1998, 'A language of teaching dilemmas: Unlocking the complex multilingual secondary mathematics classroom', For the Learning of Mathematics 18(1), 24-33.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Adler, J., Lelliott, T., Slonimsky, L., with Bapoo, A., Brodie, K., Davis, H., Mphunyane, M., Nyabanyaba, T., Reed, Y., Setati, K. and Van Voore, M.: 1997, A Baseline Study: Teaching and Learning Practices of Primary and Secondary Mathematics, Science and English Language Teachers Enrolled in theWits Further Diploma in Education (Report), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Adler, J., Lelliott, T., Reed, Y., with Bapoo, A., Brodie, K., Davis, H., De Wet, H., Dikgomo, T., Nyabanyaba, T., Roman, A., Setati, K., and Slonimsky, L.: 1998, Mixed-Mode FDEs and Their Effects: an Interim Report on the Teaching and Learning Practices of Primary and Secondary Mathematics, Science and English Language Teachers enrolled in the Wits Further Diploma in Education (Report), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Adler, J., Bapoo, A., Brodie, K., Davis, H., Dikgomo, P., Lelliott, T., Nyabanyaba, T., Reed, Y., Setati, K. and Slonimsky, L.: 1999, Mixed-Mode Further Diplomas and the Effects: Summary Report on Major Findings of a Three Year Research Project, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Adler, J. and Reed, Y.: 2000, 'Researching teachers' take-up from a formal in-service professional development programme', Journal of Education 25, 192-226.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Setati, M., Adler, J., Reed, Y. and Bapoo, A.: In press, 'Incomplete journeys: code-switching and other language practices in multilingual classrooms in South Africa', Journal of Language Education.

  8. Arthur, J.: 1994, 'English in Botswana primary classrooms: functions and constraints,' in C.M. Rubagumya (ed.), Teaching and Researching Language in African Classrooms, Multilingual Matters, Clevedon, pp. 63-87.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Baker, C.: 1993, Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Multilingual Matters, Clevedon.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Barton, B., Fairhall, U. and Trinick, T.: 1995, 'Whakatupu Reo Tatai: History of the Development of the Maori Mathematics Vocabulary', in B. Barton and U. Fairhall (eds.), Mathematics in Maori Education, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Bassey, M.: 1999, Case Study Research in Educational Settings, Open University Press, Buckingham.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Bourdieu, P.: 1991, Language and Symbolic Power, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Bot, M.: 1997, 'School register of needs: a provincial comparison of school facilities, 1996', Edusourse Data News 17, The Education Foundation, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Casden, C.B., Carrasco, R., Maldonado-Guzman, A.A. and Erikson, F.: 1980, 'The contribution of ethnographic research to bicultural bilingual education', in J.E. Alatis (ed.), Current Issues in Bilingual Education: Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics 1980, Georgetown University Press, Washington D.C.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Clarkson, P.C.: 1991, Bilingualism and Mathematics Learning, Deakin University Press, Geelong.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Cobb, P.: 1988, in Sfard, A., Nesher, P., Streefland, L., Cobb, P. and Mason, J.: 'Learning mathematics through conversation: Is it good as they say?' For the Learning of Mathematics 18, 41-51.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Cummins, J.: 1981, Bilingualism and Minority Language Children, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Ontario.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Dawe, L.: 1983, 'Bilingualism and mathematical reasoning in English as a second language', Educational Studies in Mathematics 14(1), 325-353.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. De Klerk, G.: 1995, 'Multilingualism the devil', in K. Heugh, A. Siergruhn and P. Pluddersmann.: (eds.), Multilingual Education for South Africa, Heinemann, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Department of Education (DoE): 1997, Language in Education Policy, Department of Education, Pretoria.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Department of Education (DoE): 2000, Language in the classroom: Towards a framework for intervention, National Centre for Curriculum Research and Development (NCCRD), Pretoria.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Gee, J.P.: 1996, Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses, Falmer Press, Taylor and Francis Group, London.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Granville, S., Janks, H., Joseph, M., Mphahlele, M., Ramani, E., Reed, Y. and Watson, P.: 1998, 'English without g(u)ilt: A position paper on language in education policy for South Africa', in Language and Education, Multilingual Matters, London, pp. 254-272.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Grosjean, F.: 1982, Life with Two Languages, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Grosjean, F.: 1985. 'The bilingual as a competent but specific speaker-hearer', Journal of multilingual and multicultural development 6(6), 467-477.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Halliday, M.A.K.: 1978, Language as Social Semiotic, Edward Arnold, London.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Ianco-Worral, A.D.: 1972, 'Bilingualism and cognitive development', Child development 43, 1390-1400.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Khisty, L.L.: 1995, 'Making inequality: Issues of language and meanings in mathematics teaching with Hispanic students', in W.G. Secada, E. Fennema and L.B. Adajian, (eds.), New Directions for Equity in Mathematics Education, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 279-297.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Lampert, M. and Ball, D.L.: 1998, Teaching, Multi-Media and Mathmeatics: Investigations of Real Practice, New York. Teachers' College Press.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Macdonald, C.: 1991, Eager to Talk and Learn: Bilingual Primary Education in South Africa, Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Martin-Jones, M.: 1995, 'Code-switching in the classroom: two decades of research', in L. Milroy and P. Muysken (eds.), One Speaker, Two Languages, Cambridge University Press, Great Britain.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Mercer, N.: 1995, The Guided Construction of Knowledge: Talk Among Teachers and Learners, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Moschkovich, J.: 1996, 'Learning math in two languages', in L. Puig and A. Gutiérrez (eds.), Proceedings of the 20th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Vol 4, 27-34, Valéncia: Universitat de Valéncia.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Moschkovich, J.: 1999, 'Supporting the participation of English language learners in mathematical discussions', For the Learning of Mathematics 19(1), 11-19.

    Google Scholar 

  35. National Education Policy Investigation (NEPI): 1992, Language, Oxford University Press, Cape Town.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Ovando, C.J. and Collier, V.P.: 1985, Bilingual and ESL Classrooms: Teaching in Multicultural Contexts, McGraw Hill, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Pearl, E. and Lambert, W.: 1962, 'Relation of bilingualism to intelligence', Psychological Monographs 76, 1-23.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Pimm, D.: 1991, 'Communicating mathematically', in K. Durkin and B. Shire (eds.), Language in Mathematical Education, Open University Press, Milton Keynes, pp. 17-23.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Ramirez, A.: 1980, 'Language in bilingual classrooms', NABE Journal 4(3), 61-79.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Secada, W.G.: 1991, 'Degree of bilingualism and arithmetic problem-solving in Hispanic first graders', Elementary School Journal 92(2), 213-231.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Secada, W.: 1992, 'Race, ethnicity, social class, language and achievement in mathematics', in D.A. Grouws (ed.), Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Macmillan, New York, pp. 623-660.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Setati, M.: 1996, Code-Switching and Mathematical Meaning in a Senior Primary Class of Second Language Learners, Unpublished M. Ed research report, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Setati, M.: 1998, 'Code-switching in a senior primary class of second language mathematics learners', For the Learning of Mathematics 18(1), 34-40.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Setati, M.: 1998, Innovative language practices in multilingual mathematics classrooms, Joint Education Trust, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Sfard, A., Nesher, P., Streefland, L., Cobb, P. and Mason, J.: 1998, 'Learning mathematics through conversation: Is it good as they say?' For the Learning of Mathematics 18, 41-51.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Stephens, M., Waywood, A., Clarke, D. and Izard, J.: 1993, (eds.), Communicating Mathematics: Perspectives from Classroom Practice and Current Research, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), Victoria.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Taylor, N. and Vinjevold, P.: 1999, Getting Learning Right, Joint Education Trust, Johannesburg.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Zepp, R.: 1989, Language and Mathematics Education, API Press, Hong Kong.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Setati, M., Adler, J. Between languages and discourses: Language practices in primary multilingual mathematics classrooms in South Africa. Educational Studies in Mathematics 43, 243–269 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011996002062

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mathematics Classroom
  • Language Practice
  • Main Language
  • Conceptual Discourse
  • Exploratory Talk