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Bilingualism and Mathematics Learning - An Integrative Approach
Students in language immersion classrooms, where classes are taught in a language different from the students’ first language, face the complex challenge of grasping mathematical concepts and learning a language simultaneously. In this school, students learn mathematics in English and at the same time they have to take the National Diagnostic Tests in Japanese. Will they able to transfer the mathematical knowledge acquired in English when sitting for their Japanese mathematics test? The aim of this presentation is to explore the differences in mathematical concepts, terminologies and expressions between English and Japanese and the challenges they pose to Japanese students learning Mathematics in English. For instance, the definition of length and width in Japanese is conceptually different when compared to English. In “There are 5 dishes and 3 apples are on each dish. How many apples do you have altogether?”, the number sentence “5 x 3” will not be acceptable in a Japanese math test. When fractions are introduced in second grade, English teachers explain how to “read” a fraction, without being aware of the “opposite reading” in Japanese, causing a potential confusion to the students. For example, “one out of three” or “one-third”, will be read from the whole (bottom) to the part (top) in Japanese, san bun (3 parts) no ichi (one part). In conclusion, the presenter will also introduce the strategies employed by the school to overcome these challenges.
Eng Hai Tan has more than 25 years of teaching experience. He has taught in public primary schools and the National Institute of Education in Singapore prior to working as an administrator in an English immersion school in Japan. He is currently an associate professor in the University Center for Liberal Arts Education, Meio University. His research interests include Pedagogy, Language Acquisition, Motivation and Educational Technology.