Original Research

Using visual representations to enhance isiXhosa home language learners’ mathematical understanding

Tanja Coetzer, Candice Livingston, Elna Barnard
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 13, No 1 | a1297 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v13i1.1297 | © 2023 Tanja Coetzer, Candice Livingston, Elna Barnard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 November 2022 | Published: 30 August 2023

About the author(s)

Tanja Coetzer, Department of Foundation Phase, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Wellington, South Africa
Candice Livingston, Department of Research and Postgraduate Studies, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Wellington, South Africa
Elna Barnard, Department of Foundation Phase, Faculty of Education, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Wellington, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Several isiXhosa home language (HL) learners are excluded from meaningful mathematics learning because they are taught in English. Not only do teachers lack epistemological and pedagogical confidence in using multiple languages when teaching mathematics, but there are no mathematical registers for African languages that allow for adequate mathematical teaching and learning. There is a scarcity of research on what constitutes effective mathematics instruction for isiXhosa HL learners in South African language of learning and teaching (LoLT) Grade 1 classrooms.

Aim: The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of Grade 1 teachers using visual representations to enhance isiXhosa HL learners’ understanding of mathematics in the English- LoLT in Grade 1 classrooms.

Setting: This study was conducted at four primary schools in the Western Cape’s Metro East Education District.

Methods: This study employs a qualitative research approach in conjunction with an adapted interactive qualitative analysis (IQA) systems method to collect in-depth data about current mathematics practices in English LoLT in Grade 1 classrooms. The data were analysed using John Stuart Mill’s analytical comparison technique.

Results: This study found that semiotics such as visual (and concrete) representations assist isiXhosa HL learners to grasp and understand mathematical concepts easily.

Conclusion: This study emphasises the significance of using sufficient visual representation strategies to enhance isiXhosa HL learners’ mathematical understanding in the English LoLT in Grade 1 classrooms.

Contribution: The outcomes of this study can make a positive contribution to current mathematics practice in terms of supporting isiXhosa HL learners in English LoLT in Grade 1 classrooms.


Keywords

English language of learning and teaching (LoLT); Grade 1 classrooms; isiXhosa home language learners; mathematical understanding; visual representations

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