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Title: The use of different languages in learning mathematics in secondary school
Author: Chan, Elvinia W. L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 6968
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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The purpose of this study was to examine the roles that Chinese (first language) and/ or English (second language) played in learning mathematics and their impacts on secondary school students' learning mathematics in Hong Kong by providing mixed-code tutorials to eighty-five Secondary One students in a Band One secondary school. This study aims to find out whether using the first language, second language or both languages (mixed-code) would help these bilingual students to learn better in mathematics, that is, whether the level of English-language competence impacts the ESL students' learning ability in mathematics. Moreover, this study aims to explore the possible relationships between Chinese-language proficiency, the English-language proficiency, mathematical ability and reported understanding of the mathematical concepts and preferred language used in the mathematics lessons. The findings of the study revealed that learning mathematics in second language brought heavy cognitive and linguistic loads. Learners have to be competent in both second language and mathematical language in order to survive in the learning process. In the light of the interviews, participants expressed the strict use of English in the ESL classroom limited their learning opportunities and the use of mixed-code in lessons could lower their learning anxiety and encourage active participation in discussion which allowed them to communicate and share mathematical ideas and develop better understanding. Moreover, the findings showed that participants demonstrated possible improvement in mathematics when they have attended the mixed-code tutorials. However, these participants still insisted on ESL learning environment, as they sought for every opportunity to increase exposure in English. On the other hand, they indicated their preference of using their first language as an 'assistant language' in the ESL classroom and therefore they could code-switch when needed. The study concludes by exploring various implications for policy-makers, classroom teachers and learners. Areas for further research are also identified
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available