Personal Narrative: How Language Affected My Mathematics Learning

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There are a number of changes that arise when students continue their studies outside their home country. In particular, these are changes that are concerned with being immersed in a different education system. When I moved from the Philippines to New Zealand in 2012, I experienced an educational transition that significantly affected my mathematics learning. Two such changes that I faced are language I used in my learning and type of mathematical understanding I developed. These changes that were brought about by the educational transition I made influenced my mathematics learning in several ways, both positively and negatively.
Language is one of the biggest influences that affected my mathematics learning. Firstly, learning mathematics in
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In particular, this built my confidence in working with problems that is not simply restricted to those that require computational skills. Mathematical word problems involve the student having to comprehend the problem first and be able to extract keywords that correspond to certain operations. For instance, a word problem such as “If I had 3 apples and 2 bananas, how many fruits do I have in total?” is equivalent to the mathematical expression “3 + 2 = 5”. This demonstrates the process of assimilation as theorised by a constructivist researcher, Jean Piaget, which involves using existing schema, such as one’s numerical skills, to work with new concepts, like dealing with word problems (McChesney, 2009). This was evident in my own mathematics learning as I was able to retrieve my prior knowledge and apply the relevant schema to solve problems that relate to new concepts. Thus, in general, this shows that having prior mathematical knowledge is crucial for a student to excel in his/her own mathematics learning in the …show more content…
This is the key factor that influenced the development of my instrumental understanding of mathematics. A wide range of assessment practices are used by effective teachers and this plays a critical role in supporting students’ learning in mathematics (Anthony & Walshaw, 2009). In the Philippines, I observed that most assessments are concentrated more on testing students’ proficiency in performing mathematical procedures rather than the mathematical thinking processes required to find the answer. Mathematics lessons focus on teaching rules without paying sufficient attention to concepts and how these relate to real life situations. In my mathematics learning, the teachers’ practice of conducting lessons in this way developed my instrumental understanding of mathematics. I perceived mathematics as a subject that involves performing computations and memorising formulas. As a result, my understanding became limited to knowing a set of procedural rules but lacking in a deeper level of understanding as to why I needed to execute those rules to solve

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