Developing language-responsive mathematics classrooms

Learning maths involves reasoning about abstract ideas, making connections between ideas and their representations, developing arguments and justifications, and solving a range of problems. These skills are essential. However, reliance on language and communication makes the learning process difficult for students experiencing linguistic challenges. Existing research has tended to focus on the nature, sources, and educational implications of these challenges.

This project will design and pilot a set of materials to support teachers and students to overcome linguistic challenges associated with learning linear equations (algebra), angle properties (geometry), and probability (statistics).

The research team will co-develop materials with a group of experienced maths teachers. Resources for each topic will each undergo at least two cycle of design, classroom implementation, and refinement. They will explore the relationship between participation and student attainment and engagement, as well as the way teachers use the materials.

The researchers have four intended outcomes:

  1. Improving classroom content, planning, practice, and assessment.
  2. Improving understanding of the nature of mathematical learning through examination of classroom discourse.
  3. Providing evidence-based recommendations to help build teachers confidence in handling students’ contributions in classroom discussions around demanding tasks.
  4. Identifying potential areas for future maths education research and teacher development by establishing principles for the design of language specific lessons and materials.

The final report will summarise findings from the project and the general principles applied in a UK context.

Research Team:

Dr Jenni Ingram
University of Oxford

Professor Kirstin Erath
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Professor Núria Planas
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Cheryl Lloyd
Programme Head, Education
Nuffield Foundation