Language demands in undergraduate mathematics courses
Meghan Odsliv Bratkovich 1 * , Jane Harvey 1 , Katherine M. Hellmann 2 , Kimberly A. Cooper 2
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1 University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA2 Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA * Corresponding Author


This study examines language demands in undergraduate university mathematics classes with a view to better preparing and supporting international and other culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students in the United States universities. We observed and analyzed the language demands of 13 entry-level mathematics classes across two large universities. Findings showed that mathematics instruction required extensive and varied listening skills requiring students to listen to long and uninterrupted stretches of sometimes fast paced speech. Technical vocabulary contributed to the language demands, but instructors used both academic and colloquial varieties of language in instruction, interweaving mathematical nouns with phrasal verbs to explain mathematical processes. We suggest a greater focus on development of academic listening skills in English language classes as well as potential collaboration with mathematics campus resources and faculty for additional student support for preparing CLD students for potential future discourse practices.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

INT ELECT J MATH ED, 2024, Volume 19, Issue 1, Article No: em0760

Publication date: 01 Jan 2024

Online publication date: 16 Nov 2023

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