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Title: Language influence on solving arithmetic word problems
Authors: Zerafa, Esmeralda
Keywords: Bilingualism -- Malta
Education, Bilingual -- Malta
Education, Primary -- Malta
Mathematics -- Study and teaching -- Malta
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: University of Malta. Faculty of Education
Citation: Zerafa, E. (2016). Language influence on solving arithmetic word problems. Malta Review for Educational Research, 10(2), 201-222.
Abstract: In Malta arithmetic word problems are normally presented in English. This may impinge on the performance of pupils whose first language is Maltese. The main aim of this study was to investigate whether language influences pupils’ performance on arithmetic word problems. The study was carried out with 30 children in Grade 3 (aged 8 to 9) in the three sectors of the Maltese education system: State, Catholic Church, and Independent. Some participants identified Maltese as their first language whilst others preferred English. Language preference was confirmed through an informal interview with teachers and during the individual informal interviews held with the participants. During the interview they were asked to recall and solve two multi-levelled sets of word problems, one in Maltese and another in English, and to complete a non-verbal computation sheet. Findings indicated that the pupils found word problems more challenging than non-verbal computations presumably due to the language component. Moreover, it seemed that when problems were in their first language they understood and recalled them better as well as solved them using the correct operation. They also managed to do so quicker without having to translate the word problem since this was already set in their preferred language.
ISSN: 17269725
Appears in Collections:MRER, Volume 10, Issue 2
MRER, Volume 10, Issue 2

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