Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


12th International Congress on Mathematical Education [ICME 12]


Mathematics Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Learning mathematics for many students can be a complex endeavor and learning mathematics in an unfamiliar language often compounds this complexity. In this case study we provide a snapshot of our experience teaching mathematics to students in Tanzania. Through this work we came to understand the difficulties students face in trying to learn, as a result of not understanding what we attempted to convey. Students learning mathematics in a language other than their native tongue often struggle to comprehend the material. The lack of the background knowledge, vocabulary and expressions needed to comprehend mathematics along with the often-abstract content are obstacles that second language learners need to overcome in order to learn. Mathematical terms do not always translate well and often students do not understand key mathematical vocabulary. These two issues contribute to the difficulties students face when learning new mathematical content in a second language. Studies have demonstrated that the lack of proficiency in the language of instruction results in poor performance in the subjects taught when the language is not the students primary language (Cummins, 1981) These ideas are particularly critical for mathematics teacher educators. It is important to provide pre-service mathematics teachers the necessary tools and instructional strategies in order to create equitable learning opportunities for all students of mathematics. Without these important tools teachers cannot help their students make significant progress toward learning and understanding the mathematical content that is taught in a language other than their native tongue.

Conference Name

The 12th International Congress on Mathematical Education

Conference Location

Seoul South Korea

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