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Proceedings of the Redesigning pedagogy: research, policy, practice conference, Singapore, May - June 2005.
English, Maths, and Mother Tongue are three very important subjects for primary students in Singapore. Among them, the first two are of extreme importance. The successful learning of the latter is often affected by
that of the former. Nevertheless, teachers of content subjects are often not fully aware of this. One indicator of this unawareness is that students’ poor performance in content learning is often attributed to their lack of effort or poor intelligence. In fact, the real barrier leading to students’ poor performance often lies in their incompetence in understanding the specific language used in mathematics. In other words, it is more of a language problem than an intelligence problem. This is especially the case in Singapore where the language of instruction is nobody’s mother tongue, which inevitably increases the difficulty of learning abstract subjects such as Maths. A possible way out would be to raise teachers’ and students’ language awareness in this subject. That is where corpus linguistics comes to play a role. As a preliminary study, we will build a small corpus based on the Maths teaching and learning materials (course-books, workbooks, and practice books) used at primary 5 in
Singapore and identify the most important words and sentence patterns by interfacing the corpus with Wordsmith Tools (a corpus processing software). The resulted list of key words and structures can be offered to
language teachers, Maths teachers themselves, pupils, and even pupils’ parents to attract their special attention, thus reducing the potential negative influence from the part of the language itself.
Appears in Collections:CRPP - Conference Papers

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