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South African Journal of Education

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Access to mathematics versus access to the language of power: the struggle in multilingual mathematics classrooms

M Setati

Abstract




In this article I explore how teachers and learners position themselves in relation
to use of language(s) in multilingual mathematics classrooms. I draw from two
studies in multilingual mathematics classrooms in South Africa. The analysis
presented shows that teachers and learners who position themselves in relation
to English are concerned with access to social goods and positioned by the
social and economic power of English. They do not focus on epistemological
access but argue for English as the language of learning and teaching. In
contrast, learners who position themselves in relation to mathematics and so
epistemological access, reflect more contradictory discourses, including support
for the use of the their home languages as languages of learning and teaching.

Keywords: access to mathematics; language of power; multilingual;
Setswana

South African Journal of Education Vol. 28 (1) 2008: pp. 103-116



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