Plenary Speaker Profile (2008-9)
Judit Moschkovich
Associate Professor of Mathematics Education
University of California, Santa Cruz
Beyond Words: Language(s) and Learning Mathematics

Language is an important aspect of learning in mathematics classrooms. Whether students are speaking one language or two, learning and teaching involve communication. While questions about language and learning mathematics are particularly important to consider for students who are bilingual or learning English, they are also relevant to all mathematics learners. Research in mathematics education has explored how learners participate in mathematical discourse and research in sociolinguistics has examined how bilingual learners use two languages. This talk summarizes what this research says about how students communicate mathematically and how students use two languages. Drawing on reviews of the research literature, analyses of classroom data, and video clips as examples, I address questions about language(s), discourse, and learning mathematics relevant to research and practice:

  • What are mathematical discourse practices? How is mathematical discourse more than words?
  • What are common language practices in mathematics classrooms among students who are bilingual or learning English?
  • What resources do students use to communicate mathematically? How can instruction build on these resources?

Dr. Moschkovich uses Vygotskian and situated theoretical approaches to study mathematical thinking and learning. Dr. Moschkovich's research has examined student understanding of linear functions, mathematical discourse practices, and the relationship between language and learning mathematics. She has conducted research in secondary mathematics classrooms with a large proportion of Latino students. Since 1995 she has been analyzing mathematical discussions among bilingual Latino students. She is a former mathematics instructor at San Francisco State University, was a Researcher at the Institute for Research on Learning from 1993-1998 and at TERC from 1998-1999. She was the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation project (1998-2003) "Mathematical discourse in bilingual settings: Learning mathematics in two languages" and is currently a PI for the Center for the Mathematics Education of Latinos (CEMELA), a Center for Learning and Teaching funded by NSF (2004-2009). She was the co-editor, with M. Brenner, of NCTM monograph Number 11, "Everyday and academic mathematics: Implications for the classroom" and has published journal articles and book chapters in her research areas. She has served on the Editorial Panel for the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, the Review Board for the Journal for the Learning Sciences, and as Co-Chair for the AERA SIG-Research in Mathematics Education.