Teaching mathematics to English language learners: A comparative study of issues faced by teachers in New Zealand and the United States
Jourdain, L. V. (2015). Teaching mathematics to English language learners: A comparative study of issues faced by teachers in New Zealand and the United States (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9509
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9509
New Zealand and the United States are both ethnically and linguistically diverse. With this diversity comes high numbers of English language learners in school classrooms. This is a challenge for teachers of mathematics, both mathematics specialist teachers, and those who teach mathematics as part of a wider primary/elementary curriculum, because mathematics is bound by language and culture, leading to challenges when teaching mathematics to English language learners. Understanding the issues teachers face when teaching English language learners mathematics enables these issues to be addressed. This study sought to understand the issues teachers face when teaching mathematics to English language learners. A comparative, qualitative study of ten teachers was undertaken; five teachers from New Zealand and five teachers from the United States. Each teacher participated in an individual, semi-structured interview over webcam. There were issues that teachers in both countries faced. Culture and building parental relationships impacted all teachers. Teachers in both countries had issues with mathematical language and word problems. There were also concerns about the amount of training teachers’ received and funding for English language learners. There were also issues unique to each country. In the United States, teachers were concerned with their own ability to speak Spanish, while in New Zealand teachers were concerned with the cultural appropriateness of the Numeracy Project. Further research could be undertaken to gain a deeper understanding of the issues teachers face, especially because of the small sample size in this study. Understanding these issues can enable positive changes both in policy and at the school level to better support teachers in teaching mathematics to English language learners.
University of Waikato
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