### Age-related differences in language use within the mathematical register

#### Abstract

The struggles that learners face as they attempt to produce mathematical explanations have been widely documented from researchers working in the systemic functional linguistics tradition. The approach has been to isolate specific grammatical patterns which differ across the natural and mathematical register and then argue that these represent a source of trouble for learners. This manuscript explores the extent to which age accounts for differences in the production of explanations within the mathematical register, but does so from a cognitive linguistic tradition.

Data was collected over three weeks from 50 students, 30 boys and 20 girls in five different classrooms. A Chi-Square test of independence demonstrated age-related differences in the use of six different grammatical patterns within the mathematical register. The larger argument is made that producing explanations within the mathematical register relies more on the strategic use of multiple grammatical patterns and semantic forms than the mastery of a single grammatical pattern.

#### Full Text:

PDF#### References

Aguirre-Muñoz, Z., Park, J.-E., Amabisca, A., & Boscardin, C. K. (2008). Developing teacher capacity for serving ELLs’ writing instructional needs: A case for SFL. Bilingual Research Journal, 31, 295–322. doi: 10.1080/15235880802640755

Bunch, G. (2006). “Academic language” in the 7th grade: Broadening the lens, expanding access. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5, 284-301. doi: 10.1016/j.jeap.2006.08.00

Christie, F, & Derewianka, B. (2008). School discourse: Learning to write across the years of schooling. London: Continuum.

Ernst-Slavit, G., & Mason, M. (2008). Words that hold us up. Linguistics and Education, 22(4), 430-440. doi: 10.1016/j.linged.2011.04.004

Freeman, Y.S. & Freeman, D. E., (2009). Academic Language for ELLs and Struggling Readers How to Help Students Succeed Across Content Areas. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Gottlieb, M. & Ernst-Slavit, G. (2013). Academic language in diverse classrooms. Mathematics, grades 3-5: Promoting content and language learning. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1978). Language as social semiotic. The social interpretation of language and meaning. London: Edward Arnold.

Lakoff, G. & Nunez, R. (1999). Where mathematics comes from: How embodied mind brings mathematics into being. New York: Basic Books.

Langacker, R. W. (1987). Foundations of cognitive grammar. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Langacker, R. W. (2008). Cognitive grammar: A basic introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lemke, J. L. (1989). Making text talk. Theory into Practice, 28(2), 136–141. doi 10.1080/00405848909543392

Lemke, J. L. (2003). "Mathematics in the middle: Measures, picture, gesture, sign and word". In Anderson, M., Saenz-Ludlow, A., Zellweger, S. & Cifarelli, V., (Eds.). Educational Perspectives on Mathematics as Semiosis: From Thinking to Interpreting to Knowing (pp. 215-234). Ottawa: Legas Publishing

MacGregor, M., & Stacey, K., (1993). Cognitive modeling underlying students’ formulation of simple linear equations. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 24(3) 217-232.

MacGregor, M. (2002). Using words to explain mathematical ideas. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 25(1), 78–88. Retrieved from http://www.alea.edu.au/resources/australian-journal-of-language-and-literacy-ajll/australian-journal-of-language-and-literacy-ajll

O’Halloran, K. L. (1999). Towards a systemic functional analysis of multisemiotic mathematics texts. Semiotica, 124(12), 1–29. doi: 10.1515/semi.1999.124.1-2.1

O’Halloran, K. L. (2000). Classroom discourse in mathematics: A multisemiotic analysis. Linguistics and Education, 10(3), 359–388. doi: 10.1016/S0898-5898(99)00013-3

O’Halloran, K. L. (2003). Educational implications of mathematics as a mutisemiotic discourse.

In M. Anderson, A. Saenz-Ludlow, S. Zellweger & V. V. Cifarelli (Eds.), Educational perspectives on mathematics as semiosis: From thinking to interpreting to knowing (pp. 185–214). Brooklyn, NY: Legas.

Pimm, D. (1987). Speaking mathematically: Communication in mathematics classrooms. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Schleppegrell, M. (2004). The language of schooling: A functional linguistics perspective. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Schleppegrell, M. J. (2007). The linguistic challenges of mathematics teaching and learning. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 23, 139-159. doi: 10.1080/10573560601158461

Schleppegrell, M. J. (2011). Supporting disciplinary learning through language analysis:

Developing historical literacy. In F. Christie & K. Maton (Eds.), Disciplinarity:

Functional linguistic and sociological perspectives (pp. 197-216). London: Continuum

Schleppegrell, M., & de Oliveira, L. C. (2006). An integrated language and content approach for history teachers. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5, 254–268. doi:10.1016/j.jeap.2006.08.003

Schleppegrell, M. J., Greer, S., & Taylor, S. (2008). Literacy in history: Language and meaning. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 31, 174–187. Retrieved from

http://www.alea.edu.au/resources/australian-journal-of-language-and-literacy-ajll/australian-journal-of-language-and-literacy-ajll

Schleppegrell, M. J., & O'Hallaron, C. L. (2011). Teaching academic language in L2 secondary settings. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 31, 3-18. doi: 10.1017/S0267190511000067

Sfard, A., & Livie, I., (2005). Why cannot children as the same as what grown-ups see as different?—Early numerical thinking revisited. Cognition and Instruction 23(2), 237-309.

Tomasello, M., (1992). The social bases of language acquisition, Social Development, 1, 67-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9507.1992.tb00135.x

Tomasello, M., & Rakoczy, H. (2003). What makes human cognition unique? From individual to shared collective intentionality. Mind and Language 18(2), 121-147. doi: 10.1111/1468-0017.00217

Unsworth, L. (Ed.). (2000). Researching language in schools and communities: Functionallinguistic perspectives. London: Cassell.

Veel, R. (1999). Language, knowledge and authority in school mathematics. In F. Christie (Ed.), Pedagogy and the shaping of consciousness: Linguistic and social processes (pp. 185–216). London: Continuum.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5750/bjll.v9i0.958

www.bjll.org