International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Bilingual 3rd Level Mathematics Education – Rich Insights from an Irish Context
Máire Ní Ríordáin

It is often perceived that bilingual students experience a disadvantage in learning mathematics due to the complexity of utilising two languages. While research shows that bilingualism does have an effect on performance in mathematics, it offers less in the way of explanation. Clarkson (2007) has suggested that proficient bilingualism enhances students’ meta-cognitive skills in mathematics. This paper reports on bilingual (Irish and English) third level students’ language competencies and performance in mathematics, and how they utilise their languages when engaged in mathematical problem solving. The positive impact of bilingualism, provided appropriate language thresholds have been reached in each of the languages, is evident for particular students in this sample. In particular, students opting for the bilingual approach in first year undergraduate education are reaping the rewards of additive bilingualism and enhanced meta-cognitive skills.

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