NESB migrant students studying mathematics : Vietnamese students in Melbourne and Sydney

Year: 1996

Author: Clarkson, Philip

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper describes one part of a longitudinal project working with bilingual Arabic Italian and Vietnamese migrant children who are learning mathematics in Australia. We are particularly interested in students who choose to switch between their languages when processing mathematical problems. What may prompt a bilingual student to switch languages? How often does it occur? Does it depend on the mathematical context? What changes might occur as the student progresses through primary school?

In this paper data collected in both Sydney and Melbourne from grade 4 students will be discussed. Data was obtained both from standard group test procedures, as well as individual interview with a sample of the students. Particular emphasis will be given to the Vietnamese students' responses, although some contrasts will be drawn with the other language groups. Comparisons between the two cities which have some different approaches and conditions in their schools will be highlighted, as well as overall trends in the data.

Some reflections on the implications for teachers and curriculum developers will be shared.