Guest-edited by Ann Zubrick
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics 7:2] 1984
► pp. 62–75
Mathematics problems or a language deficiency?
Pupils in junior primary school meet a large number of mathematical terms in their text books making the master of basic mathematics very difficult for pupils with less adequate language mastery. It was hypothesized that by Year 8, pupils attending a comprehensive high school would (1) show no sex differences in their comprehension of mathematical terms; but (2) pupils in the lowest Year 8 mathematics class would perform significantly worse on a mathematics comprehension test than pupils in the top class, revealing poor language rather than poor mathematical skills. Both hypotheses were supported. Further, the mean comprehension score for each graded mathematics class was significantly lower than the class just above the 1% level. Terms causing difficulty in the lower mathematics classes are discussed along with words generally not understood.