Pre-service Teachers’ Conceptualizations of Teaching Mathematics to English Language Learners

Sultan Turkan, Ester de Jong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Research indicates that many English learners (ELs) have not been effectively supported in meeting their academic learning goals. This explains, in part, the growing interest and corresponding research on the essential teacher knowledge-base for teaching ELs. Despite the attention paid to this issue, research on preservice teachers’ reasoning and instructional decision-making, especially regarding teaching mathematics to ELs remains underexplored. For this reason, we examined—through the use of authentic teaching scenarios—how ten preservice mathematics teachers, at the end of their teacher training, chose to present mathematical concepts to their EL learners. We also studied, in depth, the rationale behind their choices. Qualitative analyses of these data revealed that pre-service mathematics teachers’ instructional decision making was grounded in their perceptions of ELs as either a homogenous or a markedly heterogeneous group of learners. When asked how to best accommodate ELs with varying levels of linguistic proficiency, some pre-service teachers opted to remove all discipline-specific language from math problems, others included math terminology and defined key terms prior to the lesson, and several changed their minds—while thinking aloud—regarding how to best present the material. The practical utility of these findings are discussed in detail.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-60
Number of pages24
JournalTeacher Education Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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