Language Practices in School Mathematics

Author: Chapman, Anne P.
With a view to contributing to understanding the nature and role of language in mathematics education, this book examines spoken language practices. The book demonstrates that learning mathematics is very much a matter of learning to speak ‘properly.’ There is a pervasive and continual requirement, often hidden in everyday classroom practices, to shift towards increasingly mathematical language. The outcomes of the research reported here affirm the value of viewing language and mathematics learning from a social semiotic perspective and help further our understandings about the construction of a social semiotic theory of classroom education, both in school mathematics and across the curriculum.


“Chapman painstakingly teases out. . . the role of the teacher in shaping both his/her own language and that of the students. By identifying and implicating particular aspects of both modal and metaphoric/metonymic processes in characterising what it means to learn mathematics (that is, to learn how to speak mathematically), she point us all at ideas of considerable significance. . . . she orients us to the power of classroom language processes in their context to bring about the human possibilities that mathematics has always held. . . . their shaping effects on an educational two-way fluency by which we can come to speak mathematically and mathematics can be brought to speak, once again, through us.” – David Pimm

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. Approaches to the study of language and mathematics: finding the common thread
3. Language and mathematics: a social semiotic framework
4. Thematic and interactional development in classroom talk
5. Intertextuality: the case of functions
6. Teacher-talk: less mathematical to more mathematical language
7. Student-talk: transformational shifts in classroom discussion
8. Towards a model of language shifts in mathematics learning
References; Index