Exploring how teachers support students’ comprehension of mathematical word problems in a CLIL context
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Núñez Coronado, Gerardo Andrés
This qualitative case study of four elementary school mathematics teachers in a bilingual institution aimed to review the different strategies that teachers implement to support students’ comprehension of mathematical word problems. For the collection and analysis of the information, an interview with each teacher, the review of 15 lesson plans, three for each course, and two classroom observations of each teacher were carried out. Results showed the importance of both the role of language along with other strategies in the comprehension of mathematical word problems. Teachers used strategies that highlight mathematical vocabulary as a way to support the process of both understanding and solving the problems. Another strategy included transforming word expressions to mathematical expressions through the conceptualization and contextualization of the meaning of words. In addition, the influence of a first and second language context in the acquisition of mathematical skills was seen. Teachers teach a second language through content but use the native language sometimes to reinforce the process of content acquisition and language comprehension. Additionally, teachers employ an eight-step structure for solving mathematical word problems, as well as other strategies such as underlying or circling new vocabulary or having their students do this, and modeling through interaction during classes. Considering the results obtained, it can be concluded that for the understanding and solving mathematical problems, it is clear that teachers employ strategies that build mathematical content competencies and language skills at the same time.