Article published in:Onderzoek ontmoet onderwijs 2
[Toegepaste Taalwetenschap in Artikelen 66] 2001
► pp. 53–67
Vocabulaire Hindernissen bij Wiskunde
This study is part of a research project that investigates what problems pupils may have with language used in mathematical textbooks. Based on earlier research, the expectation is that minority pupils will have problems on micro and mesolevels of texts. The focus of this article is on the microlevel of texts. The mathematical textbook that is used for analysis is based on the ideas of Realistic Mathematics Education. In this view of education, mathematics must be connected to reality, so mathematical problems are presented in a practical context. First, the mathematical textbook was analysed on vocabulary. On the basis of this analysis of the textbook, it can be safely concluded that Realistic Mathematics Education makes strong demands on the vocabulary abilities of pupils. Mathematical texts feature many words that are not in the list of most elementary Dutch words and many of these words are difficult and have a low frequency. Second, the vocabulary of the textbook was compared to the vocabulary employed by the teacher during classroom discussions. From these analyses the conclusion may be drawn that every day words from the mathematical textbook that were used to describe the contexts were hardly used by the teacher in classroom interaction. However, the teacher did use many words from the category of mathematical words. This means that, while infrequent every day words used to describe the contexts may cause problems for pupils, the verbally presented realistic contexts are hardly discussed in class. Overall, this micro analysis reveals that the words used in mathematical texts may well pose problems for pupils, especially the infrequent every day words used to describe the realistic contexts, Further research will focus on whether minority pupils have problems with the way mathematical exercises are presented and, if so, what these problems are.
Published online: 24 March 2014