Problem-Solving Among English Language Learners: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach
International Journal of Elementary Education
Volume 8, Issue 1, March 2019, Pages: 18-25
Received: Dec. 21, 2018; Accepted: Feb. 12, 2019; Published: May 7, 2019
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Rod Case, Department of Languages, Literacy and Culture, University of Nevada, Reno, USA
Gwendolyn Williams, Department of Curriculum and Teaching, Auburn University, Auburn, USA
Peter Cobin, Loder Elementary School, Washoe County Schools, Reno, USA
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New mathematics standards ask teachers to strengthen mathematics instruction while still building upon communication skills. In today's classroom, this is complicated by the growing number of English language learners (ELLs) across the country who because they are still learning English struggle with the language of mathematics. Researchers who have addressed the question of problem-solving among ELLs have explored schema-based instruction or the use of math journals. Of these two approaches, a discussion of the ELL population is not included in research on math journals and problem solving. Within the research on schema-based instruction, research limit their findings to ELLs with math difficulties (MD). This study addresses the gap in the research on problem-solving among ELLs. A writing structure referred to as Source, Path, Goal (SPG) was used as a linguistic scaffold and type of schema-based instruction. Instruction was set in an elementary ELL classroom. Each group received a different level of scaffolded instruction: 1) instruction only treatment group, 2) instruction plus practice treatment group. Three non-parametric sign tests were conducted (one for each group) to compare pre- and post-test results and indicated strong support for the use of scaffolding plus practice. An analysis of the students’ written explanations of how they solved their math problems only indicated an increase in problem-solving skills for instruction only treatment group, but both treatment groups increased in the depth of their mathematical thinking. Implications for practice and future research are shared.
English as a Second Language, Problem Solving, Cognitive Linguistics
To cite this article
Rod Case, Gwendolyn Williams, Peter Cobin, Problem-Solving Among English Language Learners: A Cognitive Linguistic Approach, International Journal of Elementary Education. Vol. 8, No. 1, 2019, pp. 18-25. doi: 10.11648/j.ijeedu.20190801.13
Copyright © 2019 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article 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.
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