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Using ICTs to Facilitate Multilingual Mathematics Teaching and Learning

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Mathematics Education and Language Diversity

Part of the book series: New ICMI Study Series ((NISS))


Many mathematics teachers and learners are living in a world where Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), including computers and mobile phones, are common: they are digital natives. Many devices of the information and communication technologies are also connected to the Internet, meaning that an unprecedented audience and unparalleled knowledge can both be reached: the world is connected far beyond language, country, or social boundaries. ICTs offer access to numerous online knowledge sources, several of which are multilingual. ICTs also connect a large number of learners to text discussions of mathematics. The community exposure or peer-to-peer nature of this communication allows it to use a language that is highly relevant for these learners and enables them to use their own language within a shared repertoire. Finally, ICTs support exploration of mathematical objects: they commonly transcend languages through the expressivity and interactivity of representations they offer to view and manipulate mathematical ideas. This chapter surveys research that studies such innovations in the ICT and mathematics education literature. It pinpoints the gap related to the scarcity of literature on the possibilities of using ICTs to facilitate multilingual mathematics teaching and learning. To this end, the first section reviews literature about ICTs for mathematics learning, identifying a few opportunities where the language diversity is considered. It then describes how multilingualism can affect tools of the ICTs for mathematics learning. Finally it describes a few tool types, which may support the teaching and learning of mathematics in multilingual environments.

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  1. 1.

  2. 2.

    More about this initiative can be read at

  3. 3.

    Although no formal research has been conducted on the validity of automatic translators for mathematical texts, we note that there are challenges. For example, the theorem of Thales was translated into French by all the automatic translators we could find as the théorème de Thalès, but these two theorems do not state the same fact (the first states that points on a circle span a right angle to the ends of the diameter, the second is the intercepting lines theorem, stating proportionality of measures). While the knowledge to perform such translation may emerge, we have not observed projects that aim at the completion of such a task.

  4. 4.

    The web site is a combination of a search engine and a computer algebra interpreter. Each query is translated into a parameterized Mathematica programme which is displayed to the user.

  5. 5.

    See a number of other chapters in this volume that address this issue extensively.

  6. 6.

    More about the CATO System can be read from

  7. 7.

    An example evaluation from a French teacher on a learning resource in Spanish is at

  8. 8.

    For the Wiris Input Editor, see, for ASCIImath, see

  9. 9.

    At time of writing, two reports are worth mentioning to show the important penetration of mobile phones in the hands of the young generation: the JIM study in Germany ( which indicates 72 % of the 12–19-years-old have a smartphone, a number which has doubled in 3 years. In the United States, the Mobile Mindset Study ( provides similar numbers.

  10. 10.

    The notation census is available at


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This research has been partially funded by the first author’s individual affiliations and the European projects Math-Bridge and Open Discovery Space. The opinions represented herein are, however, the authors’. We thank the reviewers of this chapter, among others Philip Clarkson, for their constructive critiques.

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Libbrecht, P., Goosen, L. (2016). Using ICTs to Facilitate Multilingual Mathematics Teaching and Learning. In: Barwell, R., et al. Mathematics Education and Language Diversity. New ICMI Study Series. Springer, Cham.

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