Original Research

The interface between early numeracy, language and learning environments: Pedagogical implications

Hanrie S. Bezuidenhout
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 10, No 1 | a923 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v10i1.923 | © 2020 Hanrie S. Bezuidenhout | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 August 2020 | Published: 14 December 2020

About the author(s)

Hanrie S. Bezuidenhout, Department of Education, Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: In South Africa, many children learn mathematics in English, which is often not a home language. This type of linguistic situation intersects with their learning environments, their numeracy attainment and their executive functions. Ultimately, these aspects collectively contribute to children’s numeracy attainment in Grade 1.

Aim: To describe how teachers draw on their views of the intersection of (1) pre-school numeracy competence, (2) language for mathematics and (3) the home and classroom environment, and (4) executive functions as cognitive filter for the teaching of mathematics, specifically of number concepts.

Setting: A well-resourced school in a township area of urban Johannesburg, where Grade 1 children are taught in English, although their home language and Grade R language of instruction is isiZulu or Sesotho.

Methods: Qualitative content analysis and discourse analysis were used to analyse interview data of four purposefully selected teachers.

Results: Teachers’ discourse showed that they were able to reflect on their teaching and to provide examples of how children’s language, the environment and executive functions could feature in their early numeracy development. Yet, the teachers did not link theoretical ideas to their personal pedagogical theories.

Conclusion: Teachers need robust theoretical models to continuously develop personal pedagogical theories of cognitive development to integrate theoretical knowledge with their teaching practices.


early numeracy; language proficiency; language for mathematics; multilingual setting; executive functions; learning environment; foundation phase pedagogy


Total abstract views: 1863
Total article views: 3017


Crossref Citations

1. A 20-year review of South African Early Grade Mathematics Research Articles
Samantha Morrison, Mellony Graven, Hamsa Venkat, Pamela Vale
African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education  vol: 27  issue: 3  first page: 304  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1080/18117295.2023.2226547