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Cafe CLIL Discussion 12: The language of content - Mathematics Topic (Averages: Data Handling)

Discussion 12: The language of content - Mathematics Topic (Averages: Data Handling)

Reporting back on conferences and meetings; discussion on the language of the Mathematics topic Averages: Data Handling, demands on learners, strategies and techniques for dealing with this language in the CLIL classroom.

18.05.10 (17.00-18.00 Central EU time)

You can listen to a recording of this discussion at this YouTube link.

Welcome to Mathematics teacher and newcomer to Cafe CLIL, Sandra Losbichler from Austria. s.losbichler@inode.at. We couldn't really have had such a good discussion without Sandra.
Also in Cafe CLIL 12 were:
K - Keith Kelly (Host, Bulgaria)
JC - John Clegg (UK)
LD'A - Lauretta D'Angelo (Italy)
PR - Peach Richmond (Switzlerand)

This follows on from the discussion on the language of Chemistry, and the feeling that revolving discussion around specific subjects, topics from a subject and specific content materials and tasks would be of most use to teachers as they would have concrete examples of approaches to work with.

The procedure was the same as the last discussion:
1) analyze the language of the subject materials
2) suggest demands this language makes on learners working through an additional language (this term was given to me by Itziar in the Basque country, thanks Itziar!) now to be referred to AL learners.
3) suggest techniques for dealing with language demands and methods for providing language support and designing language-appropriate tasks.

Discussion Notes
(Fuller minutes are available for download below)

1 - The language of Maths is invisible
One of the problems with Maths is that a lot of the language is not visible on the page in the way that it is with other subjects, Sciences or Geography for example.
 
2 - What can we do with very abstract concepts?
There is general agreement that the textbook pages used were dense with content, and there is a need for more contextualization of the content.
 
3 - There is a need for high quality teacher talk
Students need to hear and to tell Maths stories
It is suggested to use everyday stories to contextualize the Maths concepts.
 
4 - Students need time to translate
There are books available which describe the processes of giving students time and support to interpret the language of Maths and then translate it into the specialized language of the subject.
Ref:
- Active Literacy Across the Curriculum by Heidi Hayes Jacobs

5 - Interaction in the subject can create opportunities for language practice
It's useful to get students to explain the Maths to each other in their own words.

6 - We need to be aware of the many levels of language
a) Learners talking informally about Maths
b) Learners talking formally
c) Learners talking in L1
There is the suggestion that working in L2 must slow the learner down in the Maths, there is a reference to an article on this very topic by Judit Moschkovich. (USING TWO LANGUAGES WHEN LEARNING MATHEMATICS, JUDIT MOSCHKOVICH, Educational Studies in Mathematics (2005) 64: 121–144, DOI: 10.1007/s10649-005-9005-1 C Springer 2005)

7 - Is it harder for the teacher or the students?
Our Maths participant suggested that it's often harder for the teacher than it is for the students as there is a demand on the teacher to produce a lot of the language as input in the classroom. YouTube Maths clips are suggested as a good place to find examples of good Maths language.
Ref: - Teaching Mathematics to English Language Learners, Kersaint et al

8 - Exams and Maths language
We ask if Maths exams demand longer L2 utterances and the example of Qatar is given of a country where the exams are predominantly number focused. (keithpkelly@yahoo.co.ukyou have of Maths exams which demand longer written full answers!)

The following pages were provided to focus discussion on concrete maths materials:
350-358 AQA Maths Higher, 2006 (Payne et al) Heinemann

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Attached files

CC12 Minutes