Little is understood about prospective teachers’ conceptions regarding the mathematics education of English language learners (ELLs). This study examined prospective teachers’ conceptions about language and mathematics while they investigated children’s thinking in a mathematics for teaching1 class. Findings show that participants thought teachers should help ELLs acquire mathematical language, which three participants saw as more than just vocabulary. All participants also thought it was important for children to express their mathematical understanding. However, two participants seemed to conceive of a unique way to express that understanding. These findings suggest that prospective teachers need to be critically exposed to literature regarding the mathematics instruction of ELLs earlier and more thoroughly through their teacher preparation coursework. Additionally prospective teachers will benefit from participating in experiences that focus on working with ELLs in mathematics classrooms.
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