Provision for NESB students in the mathematics classrooms of Victorian schools

Year: 1994

Author: Bishop, Alan J., Brew, Christine R.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The task of teaching secondary-level mathematics in classrooms containing large numbers of non-English speaking background (NESB) students with different first languages has long been recognised to be a difficult one for any mathematics teacher. In this paper, we report on a range of strategies that have been adopted by schools that reflect various pedagogical perspectives.

Apart from some specific exceptions, the dominant ideology is that the study of mathematics is essentially language-free, or at least this belief lurks not far from the surface. In relation to the work of ESL support staff, they are likely to be involved in some way in mathematics and science teaching but more so in science, and the most common way they work with students is either in a team teaching mode or in a support capacity. Additionally, since the recent massive education budget cuts in Victoria, best practice schools which were interviewed state that specific programs have been either diminished or dismantled entirely. The highest priority for support is with new arrivals, and support at VCE level has consequently declined.