Iranian bilingual students reported use of language switching when doing mathematics

Research paper by Zahra Parvanehnezhad, Philip Clarkson

Indexed on: 01 Apr '08Published on: 01 Apr '08Published in: Mathematics Education Research Journal


Teachers are often unaware that bilingual students often switch between their languages when doing mathematics. Little research has been undertaken into this phenomenon. Results are reported here from a study of language switching by sixteen Year 4/5 Iranian bilingual students as they solved mathematical problems in an interview situation. Reasons given for switching between English and their L1 language (Persian or Farsi) were the difficulty of the problem, familiarity with particular numbers or words they used habitually in Persian, and being in the Persian school or interview environment. It seems likely that these Iranian bilingual students will continue to use some form of language switching to help them understand and complete mathematical tasks in mainstream classrooms.