Learning Mathematics in English at Basic Schools in Ghana: A Benefit or Hindrance?
APA 6th edition
Fredua-Kwarteng, E., & Ahia, F. (2015). Learning Mathematics in English at Basic Schools in Ghana: A Benefit or Hindrance?. European Journal of Educational Research, 4(3), 124-139. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.4.3.124
Fredua-Kwarteng E., and Ahia F. 2015 'Learning Mathematics in English at Basic Schools in Ghana: A Benefit or Hindrance?', European Journal of Educational Research , vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 124-139. Available from: https://dx.doi.org/10.12973/eu-jer.4.3.124
Chicago 16th edition
Fredua-Kwarteng, Eric and Ahia, Francis . "Learning Mathematics in English at Basic Schools in Ghana: A Benefit or Hindrance?". (2015)European Journal of Educational Research 4, no. 3(2015): 124-139. doi:10.12973/eu-jer.4.3.124
Facilitating effective mathematics learning and higher mathematics achievement have long been recognized as a key to the scientific and technological advancement of the African continent. While the central role that language proficiency plays in mathematics teaching and learning has received an overwhelming research attention in the literature over the past two decades, this is not the case among African policy-makers and political leaders. Drawing mainly from our professional experiences as mathematics educators and from the international research literature, our primary intent in this paper is to answer this question: How does the learning of mathematics in English at the basic school level help or hinder students’ mathematical proficiency? To answer this question, the paper is organized as follows. The first part, the introduction, gives a brief overview of the language of learning and teaching in Africa. The second part describes the method and conceptual framework undergirding the research. In the third section, we have analyzed the effects of mathematics learning and teaching through English for basic students whose mother tongue is a Ghanaian language. The conclusion offers four recommendations for developing and improving the mathematics proficiency of students in basic schools.
Keywords: Mathematics proficiency, english language, student culture, language of learning and teaching
Abedi, J. And Lord, C. (2001). The language factor in mathematics tests. Applied Measurement in Education, 14(3), 219-234.
Abreu, G.de., Bishop, A. J and Presmeg, N. (2002). Mathematics learners in transition. In G. De. Abreu,. A. Bishop and N. Presmeg (eds).Transitions between contexts of mathematical practices (pp.7-21). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publications.
Adetunde, I. A. (2007). Improving the teaching and learning of mathematics in second cycle institutions in Ghana. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences, 4(31), 340-344.
Adetunde, I. A. (2009). Improving the teaching and learning of mathematics in second cycle institutions in Ghana (paper 2). Report and Opinion, 1(3), 33-35.
Adler, J. (1998). A language of teaching dilemmas: Unlocking the complex multilingual secondary mathematics classroom. For the Learning of Mathematics, 18, 24–33.
Allardice, B. And Ginsberg, H. (1982). Children’s psychological difficulties in mathematics. In H. Ginsberg (eds.), The development of mathematical thinking (pp.319-350). New York:Academic Press Inc.
Alidou, H and Brock-Utne, B. (2011). Teaching practices-Teaching in a familiar language. In A. Ouane and C. Glanz (Ed.). Optimizing learning: Education and publishing in Africa: The language factor (pp.159-184). Hamburg, Germany: UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning.
Ampadu, E. (2012). Students’ perceptions of their teachers’ teaching of mathematics: The case of Ghana. International online Journal of Educational Sciences, 4(2), 351-358.
Ampah-Mensah, A. (2009). Teachers’ use of language in teaching mathematics in basic schools in Cape Coast, Ghana. In M. Joubert (eds), Proceedings of British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics, Bristol University, June 19-20th.
Ampiah, J.G. (2008). An investigation of provision of quality basic education in Ghana: A case study of selected schools in the Central Region. CICE Hiroshima University, Journal of International Cooperation in Education, 11(3), 19-37.
Ampiah, J.G. (2010). Quality basic education in Ghana: Prescription, praxis and problems. Paper presented at the Experience Sharing Seminar, January 17-19, Erata Hotel, Accra, Ghana.
Anamuah-Mensah, J and Mereku(2005). Ghanaian JSS2 students’ abysmal mathematics achievement in TIMSS-2003: A consequence of the basic school mathematics curriculum. Mathematics Connection, 5, 1-13.
Anstrom, K. (1997). Academic achievement for secondary language minority: Standards, measures and promising practice. Accessed from http://www.ncela.gwu,edu/pubs/reports/acadach.htm
Awanta, E.K (2009). Students’ view of mathematics: A survey of junior and senior high schools in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. Ghana Policy Journal, 3, 90-109.
Bamgbose, A. (2007). Language and literacy issues in Africa. In N Alexander and B. Busch (Ed.). Literacy and linguistic diversity in a global perspective: Intercultural exchange with African countries (pp.23-30). Graz, Austria: European Centre for Modern Languages.
Barwell, R. (2010. May).Tension in teaching mathematics through a second language. The American Council on Immersion Education (ACTE) Newsletter., 13(3).
Beal, C.R., Adams, N.M. and Cohen, P.R. (2010). Reading proficiency and mathematics problem-solving by high school English language learners. Urban Education, 45(1), 58-74.
Berry, R. Q. (2003). Mathematics standards, cultural styles and learning preferences: The plight and promise of African-American students. Clearing House, 67(5), 244-249.
Berliner, D.C. (1994). Teacher expertise. In B. Moon and A.S. Mayes (ed.). Teaching and learning in the secondary school (pp.107-113). London: Rouledge
Bishop, A. (2004). The relationship between mathematics and culture. Opening address delivered at the Iranian Mathematics Education Conference in Kermanshah, Iran.
Boud, D., Keogh, R. and Walker, D. (1985).Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning, London: Kogan Page.
Boulet, G. (2007). How does language impact the learning of mathematics? Let me count the ways. Journal of Teaching and Learning, 5(1), 1-12
Brock-Utne, B. (2005).Education-job no 1: What education, for whom? Reactions to policy paper: Education job no.1. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund
Brock-Utne, B. And Alidou, H. (2011B). Teaching practices-Teaching in a familiar language. In A. Ouane and C. Glanz (Ed.). Optimizing learning: Education and publishing in Africa: The language factor (pp.187-215). Hamburg, Germany: UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning.
Garrison, L. and Mora, J. K. (1999). Adapting Mathematics Instruction for English Language Learners: The language-concept Connections. Changing the Faces of Mathematics:Perspectives on Latinos, March, 35-48.
Charbonneau , M. and John-Steiner, V. (1988). Patterns of experience and the language of Mathematics. In R.R Cocking and J.P Mestre (eds.) Linguistic and cultural influences on learning mathematics: The psychology of education and instruction (pp.91-100). Hillsdale, NJ:
Lawrence and Erlbaum Associates Inc. Christie, M.J. (1985). Aboriginal perspectives on experience and learning: The role of language in Aboriginal education. Victoria, Australia: Deakin University Press
Cohen, L., and Manion, L., (1994) (4th Edition), Research Methods in Education, London: Routledge
Cole, P.M. (1994, Spring). Finding a path through the research maze. The Qualitative Report, 2(1). Retrieved November 28, 2012 from htt://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/Backissues/QR2- 1/cole.html
Connelly, M.F. and Clandinin, D. J. (1990). Stories of experience and narrative inquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(5), 2-14.
Creswell, J.W (2008). Narrative design in educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd). Upper Saddle River, NI: Pearson Education Inc.
Cuevas, G.J. (1984). Mathematics learning in English as a second language. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 15(2), 134-144.
Dewey, J. (1933). How we think. Boston, MA: D.C. Heath.
Durkin, K. And Shire, B. (1991). Lexical ambiguity in mathematical contexts. In K. Durkin and B. Shire (Eds). Language in mathematical education: Research and practice (pp.71-84). Buckingham: Open University Press.
Dutcher, N. (2001). Expanding educational opportunities in linguistically diverse societies. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics
Ellis, C. (1995). Final negotiations: A story of love, loss and chronic illness. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Ernst-Slavit, G. And Slavit, D. (2007a). Educational reform, mathematics, and English language learners: Meeting the needs of all students. Multicultural Education, 14(4), 20-27.
Ernst-Slavit, G. And Slavit, D. (2007b). Teaching mathematics and English to English learners simultaneously. Middle School Journal, 39(2), 4-11.
Eshun, B.A (2000).Mathematics education today. Mathematics Connection, 1(1), 12-17.
Fenstermacher, G.D. (1994). The knower and the known: The nature of knowledge on teaching. Review of Research in Education, 20, 3-56.
Feza-Piyose, N. (2012). Language: A cultural capital for conceptualizing mathematics knowledge. International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education, 7(2), 61-79
Ferreira, J.G (2011). Teaching life sciences to English second language learners: What do teachers do? South African Journal of Education, 31, 102-113
Fleer, M, and Robins, J. (2005). (There is much more to this literacy and numeracy than you realise...”: Family enactment of literacy and numeracy versus educators’ construction of learning in home contexts. Journal of Australian Research in Early Childhood Education, 12(1), 23-41
Flores, A. (1997). Si se puede,”it can be done: Quality mathematics in more than one language. In J. Trentacosta and M.J. Kenney (eds). Multicultural and gender equity in mathematics classrooms:The gift of diversity (pp.81-91). Reston: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Frade, C. And Faria, D. (2008). Is mathematics learning a process of enculturation or a process of acculturation. In J.F. Matos, P. Valero & K. Yasukawa (Eds.) (2008). Proceedings of the Fifth
International Mathematics Education and Society Conference. Lisbon: Centro de Investigação em Educação, Universidade de Lisboa – Department of Education, Learning and Philosophy, Aalborg University.
Fredua-Kwarteng, E. and Ahia, F. ( 2005). Ghana Flunks at Math and Science: Analysis (2). Feature article. Ghana News 23 February.
Gardner, I. (2001). Non-traditional management education: The academic experience. EdD Thesis. Melbourne. Australia: Monash University.
Gerdes, P. (2003). Awakening of geometrical thought in early culture. Minneapolis: MEP Publications.
Gerdes, P. (2008). Exploration of technologies, emerging from African cultural practices in mathematics education. Centre for Mozambican Studies and Enoscience, Maputo, Mozambique: Universidade Pedagogica.
Greenwood, D., & Levin, M. (1998). Introduction to action research: Social research for social change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Greenwood, J. (1994). Action research and action researchers: Some introductory considerations. Contemporary Nurse, 3, 84-92.
Gollnick, D. And Chinn, P.C. (2006). Multicultural education in a pluralistic society. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Gove, A. and P. Cvelich (2010). Early Reading: Igniting Education for All. A report by the Early Grade Learning Community of Practice. Research Triangle Park, NC: Research Triangle Institute.
Gutierrez, R. (2002). Enabling the practice of mathematics teachers in context: Toward a new equity research agenda. Mathematics Thinking and Learning, 4, 145-187
Halmos, P. (1980). The heart of mathematics. American Mathematical Monthly, 87(7), 619-524
Hannabuss, S. (2000). Being there: Ethnographic research and autobiography. Library Management, 21(2), 99-106.
Hansen-Thomas, H. (2009). Reform-oriented mathematics in three 6th grade classes: How teachers draw in ELLs to academic discourse. Journal of Language ,Identity & Education, 8(2), 88-106.
Howie, S. (2002). English language proficiency and contextual factors influencing mathematical achievement of secondary school pupils in South Africa. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis. Enschede, Netherlands University of Twente, Enschede: PrintPartners Ipskamp.
Janzen, J. (2008). Teaching English language learners in the content areas. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 1010-1038.
Jaworski, B. (1998). Mathematics teacher research: Process, practice and development of teaching. Journal of Mathematics Teacher, 1(1), 3-31.
Khisty, L. L. (2006). Language and mathematics: Toward social justice for linguistically diverse students. In J. Novotná, H. Moraová, M. Krátká, & N. Stehlíková (Eds.),Proceedings of the 30th
Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, (Vol. 3, 433-440). Prague, CR: Charles University.
Kilpatrick, J., Swafford, J., and Findell, B. (2001). Adding it up: Helping children learn
Lager, C.A. (2006). Types of mathematics-language reading interactions that unnecessarily hinder algebra learning and assessment. Reading Psychology, 27, 165-204.
Lan, O.S. and Tan, M. (2008). Mathematics and science in English: Teachers’ experience inside the classroom. Jurnal Pendidk dan Pendidkan Jil, 23, 141-150.
Langa, M. (2006). An investigation of learners’ home language as a support for learning mathematics. Unpublished master’s dissertation. Johannesburg, South Africa: University of the Witwatersrand.
Larwin, K. H. (2010). Reading is fundamental in predicting math achievement in 10th graders. International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education, 5(3), 131-145.
Lesh, R., and Zawojewski, J. (2007). Problem-solving and modeling. In F. Lester (Ed.), Second handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 763-804). Reston, VA: NCTM
Manu, S.S. (2005). Language switching and mathematical understanding in Tongan classrooms: An investigation. Direction: Journal of Educational Studies, 27(2), 47-70.
Martin, D. (2007). Beyond missionaries or cannibals: Who should teach mathematics to African American children? The High School Journal, 91(1), 5-28.
Mason, J. (2002). Researching your own practice: The discipline of noticing. New York: Falmer.
Matang, R. A. (2006). Linking ethnomathematics, situated cognition, social constructivis and mathematics education: An example from Papua New Guinea. ICME-3 Conference paper, New Zealand.
Mayers, C. (1994). Mathematics and mathematics teaching: Changes in pre-service studentteachers' beliefs and attitudes. In G Bell, B. Wright, N. Leeson & J. Geake (Eds.),Challenges in mathematics education: Constraints on construction (Vol. 2, pp. 419428). Lismore: Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia
Mcleman, L., Fernandes, A. and NcNulty, M. (2012). Regarding the mathematics education of English learners: Clustering the conceptions of pre-service teachers. Journal of Urban Mathematics Education, 5(2), 112-132.
Merriam,S.B. (2001). Andragogy and self-directed learning: Pillar of adult learning theory Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2(89), 3-13.
Mereku, K. (2003). Methods in Ghanaian primary mathematics textbooks and teachers’ classroom practice. In J. William (eds), Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics)pp61-66), 23(2), June 7.
Mereku, K. D., Amedahe, F. K. and Etsey, K. (2005). Opportunity to learn: English and mathematics. Report of a Study Conducted on Behalf of Ghana Education Service, Curriculum Research and Development Division (CRDD) to Facilitate the Basic Education Comprehensive Assessment System (BECAS). Retrieved from June 27, 2015, from http:// http://www.equip123.net/docs/e2- OTL.pdf
Mestre, J.P.(1988). The role of language comprehension in mathematics and problem-solving. In R.R Cocking and J.P Mestre (eds.) Linguistic and cultural influences on learning mathematics:The psychology of education and instruction (pp.201-220). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence and Erlbaum Associates Inc.
Miles, M.B. and Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook.Thousand Oak, CA: Sage.
Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports (2004). Ghana’s performance in TIMSS 2003. Accra, Ghana: Ghana Education Service.
Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (2007a). Teaching syllabus for mathematics (primary school 1-6). Accra, Ghana: Curriculum Research and Development Division.
Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (2007b). Teaching syllabus for mathematics (junior high school, 1-3). Accra, Ghana: Curriculum Research and Development Division
Moschkovich, J. (2007). Using two languages while learning mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 64(2).
Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., & Foy, P. (2008). International mathematics report: Findings from IEA‟s Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study at the fourth and eighth grades. Chestnut Hill: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.
Naroth, C. (2010). Constructive teacher feedback for enhancing learner performance in mathematics. Unpublished master’s thesis. Bloemfontein, South Africa: University of Free State.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1991). Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics. Reston, Va.:Author.
Nicol, C. (2005). Exploring mathematics in imaginative places: Rethinking what counts as meaningful contents for learning mathematics. School Science and Mathematics, 105(5), 240.
Nordin, A. B. (2005). Students’ perceptions on teaching and learning mathematics in English. Accessible from http://www.eprints.utm.mg/1507/1KERTASINT.pdf
Obanya, P. (1980). Research on alternative teaching in Africa. In E.A Yoloye and K.H. Flechsig (ed,) Educational research for development (pp.67-112). Bonn, Germany: Deutsche Stiftung Fur Internationale Entwicklung.
Okpoti, C.A. (2001). Ethnomathematics: What is it? Mathematics Connection, 2, 57-60.
Owu-Ewie, C. (2006). The language policy of education in Ghana: A critical look at English-only Language policy of education. In J. Magame, J.P Hutchison, and D. A. Worman. (ed.) Selected Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference on African linguistics: African languages and linguistics in broad perspectives. (pp.76- 85). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Project.
Parker. C. E., Louie, J., & O’Dwyer, L. (2009). New measures of English language proficiency and their relationship to performance on large-scale assessments. (Issues & Answers Report, REL. 2009-No. 066). Washington, D.C: U.S.Department of Education
Pirie, S. (1998). Crossing the gulf between thought and symbol: Language as (slippery) stepping stones. In H. Steinbring, B, Buss, and A Sierspienska (eds,), Language and communication in mathematics classroom (pp.7-29). Reston, Virginia: NCTM.
Polya, G. (1962). Mathematical discovery (Volume 2). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Robinson, C.D. (1996). Language use in rural development: An African perspective. The Hague: Mounton de Gruyter.
Rollnick, M. and Manyatsi, S. (1997). Language, culture or disadvantage: What is at the heart of student adjustment to tertiary chemistry. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Southern African Association for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. Johannesburg: University of Witwatersrand.
Rosaldo, R. (1989). Culture and truth. London: Routledge.
Salend, S. And Salinas, A. (2003). Language differences or learning difficulties? Teaching Exceptional Children, March/April, 36-43.
Schleppegrell, Mary J. (2007). The linguistic challenges of mathematics teaching and learning: A Research Review.Reading and Writing Quarterly, 23: 139-159.
Setati, M., & Adler, J. (2001). Between languages and discourses: Language practices in primary multilingual mathematics classrooms in South Africa. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 43, 243–269.
Setati, M. (2002). Researching mathematics education and language in multilingual South Africa. The Mathematics Educator, 12(2), 6–20.
Setati, M. (2005a). Teaching mathematics in a primary multilingual classroom. Journal For Research in Mathematics Education, 36(5), 447-488.
Setati, M. (2005b). Power and access in multilingual mathematics classrooms. In M. Goos, C, Kanes and R. Brown (eds.) Proceedings of the Fourth International Mathematics Education and Society Conference (pp. 7-18). Brisbane: Centre for Learning Research, Griffith University.
Setati, M., and Barwell, R. (2006). Discursive practices in two multilingual mathematics classrooms: An international comparison. African Journal for Research in Mathematics Science and Technology Education, 10(2), 27-38.
Stoddart, K. (2001). People like us: Memories of marginality in high school and university. Qualitative Inquiry, 7(2), 171-191.
Sua, T. Y and Raman, S. R. (2007). Problems and challenges of learning through a second language: The case of teaching of science and mathematics in English in the Malaysian primary schools. Kajian Malaysia Jid, xxv (2), 129-154
Tenni, C., Smyth, A., & Boucher, C. (2003, March). The researcher as autobiographer: Analysing data written about oneself. The Qualitative Report, 8(1). Retrieved October 11, 2012 from http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR8-1/.html
West African Examination Council (WAEC)(2006). Chief examiners’ report on basic examination certificate examination: 2006 mathematics. Accra, Ghana: Author.
Whale, S.G. (2012). Using language as a resource: Strategies to teach mathematics in multilingual classes. Unpublished master’s thesis. Port Elizabeth, South Africa: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Wilcox, S., Lanier, P., Schram, P., & Lappan, G (1992). Influencing ~beginning teachers' practice inmathematics education: Confronting constraints of knowledge, beliefs, and context (Research report 92-1). East Lansing, MI: The National Center for Research on Teacher Learning,Michigan State University.
Williams, E. (1996). Reading in two languages at year 5 in African primary schools. Applied Linguistics, 17, 182-209.
Wilson, B. (1992). Mathematics education in Africa In R.Morris and Arora, M.S. (ed.). Studies in mathematics education: Moving into the twenty first century (vol.8)(pp.125-147). Paris, France:UNESCO.
Yin, R.K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Sage.
Yost, D.S., Sentner, S.M. and Forlenza-Bailey, A. (2000). An examination of construct of critical reflection: implications for teacher education programming in the twenty-first century. Journal of Teacher Education, 5(1), 39-48.
Yushau, B. (2004). The role of language in teaching and learning of mathematics. Department of Mathematical Sciences. King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Technical Report Series (TR3181).
Zevenbergen, R. (2008). The dilemmas of indigenous education: The passion for ignorance. In J.F. Motos, P. Valero, and K. Yasukawa (ed.). Proceedings of the Fifth International Mathematics Education and Society Conference (pp.505-514). Albufeira, Portugal, February 16-21th.