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Bridging language barriers in statistics for Year-12 Pasifika students: A collaborative study

Sashi Sharma

2018 Aotearoa New Zealand

This paper focuses on the use of home languages as a resource for Pasifika students who are learning about statistical methods. It is acknowledged that there are connections between language use and mathematics in mathematics learning and teaching, and the potential challenges this issue can pose have been investigated by researchers. Yet how the challenges of the use of home language versus teaching language might be overcome in statistics classrooms, where language is even more important as a medium of instruction, has received very little scrutiny. This article reports on research carried out in three New Zealand largely Pasifika dominated Year-12 classes. Data was collected from audio recordings of student group discussions and teacher reflections while students were carrying out an investigation of existing datasets. Findings from the teacher reflection aspect of the study indicate that teachers can struggle with how to use home language and real-life contexts to maximise learning in their classroom. Some strategies to incorporate students home language in their learning worked better than others. However, more in-depth research is needed to explore language issues and the barriers they might present in statistics education.

Statistics education, linguistic challenges, everyday language, statistical language, collaborative research, connecting language and statistics, Pasifika students, language strategies