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Language Use in a Multilingual Class: a Study of the Relation Between Bilingual Students’ Languages and Their Meaning-Making in Science
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2300-7224
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.
2017 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this study, we examine how bilingual students in elementary school use their languages and what this means for their meaning-making in science. The class was multilingual with students bilingual in different minority languages and the teacher monolingual in Swedish. The analysis is based on a pragmatic approach and the theory of translanguaging. The science content was electricity, and the teaching involved class instruction and hands-on activities in small groups. The findings of the study are divided into two categories, ‘students’ conversations with the teacher’ and ‘student’s conversations with each other’. Since the class was multilingual, the class instruction was carried out in Swedish. Generally, when the conversations were characterised by an initiation, response and evaluation pattern, the students made meaning of the activities without any language limitations. However, when the students, during whole class instruction, were engaged in conversations where they had to argue, discuss and explain their ideas, their language repertoire in Swedish limited their possibilities to express themselves. During hands-on activities, students with the same minority language worked together and used both of their languages as resources. In some situations, the activities proceeded without any visible language limitations. In other situations, students’ language repertoire limited their possibilities to make meaning of the activities despite being able to use both their languages. What the results mean for designing and conducting science lessons in a multilingual class is discussed. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Science education, bilingualism, language use, meaning-making
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145301DOI: 10.1007/s11165-016-9597-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-145301DiVA: diva2:1128312
Available from: 2017-07-24 Created: 2017-07-24 Last updated: 2017-07-31Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Bilingual students' learning in science: Language, gestures and phyiscal artefacts
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Bilingual students' learning in science: Language, gestures and phyiscal artefacts
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The objective of this thesis is to examine how language, gestures and physical artefacts are used in science classes with emergent bilingual students who do not share the same minority language as their classmates or teachers. The purpose is to contribute to findings that can enhance emergent bilingual students’ learning in science. The data consist of classroom observations in one 3rd grade (9–10 years old) and one 7th grade (13–14 years old) science class. In addition, the students in the 7th grade were interviewed. Whole-class instruction was carried out monolingually in Swedish. The students typically made meaning of the activities without any language limitations during conversations following an initiation, response and evaluation pattern (IRE). However, during longer conversations the students’ language repertoire in Swedish frequently limited their possibilities to express themselves. During group-work activities, students with the same minority language worked together and used both of their languages. One strategy used among the students to overcome language limitations was translating unfamiliar words into their minority language. In general, this supported the students’ learning in science. Occasionally, the students made incorrect translations of scientific concepts. The interviews with the students demonstrated how monolingual exams may limit emergent bilingual students’ achievements in science. When students’ language proficiency limited their possibility to express themselves, the students showed what they meant by using gestures. This resulted in the continuation of the lessons as both other students and teachers drew on the used gestures to talk about the science content. The physical artefacts implied that the students experienced the science content by actually seeing it, which the teacher then drew on to introduce how the phenomena or process in question could be expressed in scientific language. When students’ proficiency in the language of instruction limited their possibilities to make meaning, using physical artefacts enabled them to experience unfamiliar words being related to the science content and learn what they mean. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University, 2017. 78 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis from the department of mathematics and science education, 16
Keyword
science education, bilingual students, mediating means, language, gestures, physical artefacts, learning, meaning-making, practical epistemological analysis, translanguaging, continuity
National Category
Other Natural Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145410 (URN)978-91-7649-880-4 (ISBN)978-91-7649-881-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-09-15, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Submitted.

Available from: 2017-08-23 Created: 2017-07-31 Last updated: 2017-08-17Bibliographically approved

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