Text size

Bilingual Advantange in the classroom

November 28, 2011

Bilingual pupils outperform  English speakers in maths at second and third level, according to a new report published earlier this month.

The new report published by the National Centre for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning in the University of Limerick is based on a study carried out by Dr Máire Ní Ríordáin over a three year period from 2005 and 2008.

The aim of the study was to investigate Irish post-primary and undergraduate mathematics students experiences of learning Maths through the medium of English, which  was their second language.

The report finds that learning maths through the medium of Irish at primary school level may enhance long term understanding of maths, even in English-medium second level education.

However it notes that the during the transition from Irish medium education to English medium second level education that  Irish speakers did experience some disadvantage  of 8.7% when assessed in English. However the report’s author notes that  these problems were only experienced in the initial transition and are specific to having English as the new language of learning.

Obstacles faced by Irish speakers included problems with the register of English Mathematics, including syntax semantics and mathematics vocabulary.

However,“ The advantages of being bilingual can outweigh the negative ones once proficiency is developed in both languages” says Dr Ní Ríordáin.

The report notes that Irish speakers use both language when solving mathematical problems and that students switch between languages. Further research needs to  look at how code-switching can be incorporated into the classroom.  It also notes that future government initiatives could consider the opportunity of studying additional subjects through the medium of Irish. Minister Seán Sherlock launched the report which can be downloaded here.

©Foilsithe ar Gaelport.com 24 Samhain 2011.