The role of L1 and L2 reading comprehension in solving mathematical word problems
A case in a delayed partial immersion program
Mathematics educators are concerned about students’ lack of ability to translate mathematical word problems into computable forms. Researchers argue that linguistic problems lie at the root of students’ difficulties with mathematical word problems. The issue becomes more complicated for bilingual students. It is argued that if students study mathematics in a second language they cannot be as successful as when they study in their first language. This study investigates the relationship between reading comprehension and performance on mathematics word problems in L1 and L2 for students learning English as a second language in a delayed partial immersion program. Data were collected from 250 Turkish students from Grade 8 of a private school in Istanbul through reading comprehension tests in L1 and L2 and an algebra word problems test prepared in L1 and L2. The results indicate a positive relationship between reading comprehension and mathematics performance. They also show that the students who participated in this study were not disadvantaged when they studied mathematics in English.
Published online: 01 January 2005
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