The Mathematical and communicative discourse in a multicultural content based classroom of an international school: an ethnographic study
The purpose of this ethnographic study was to investigate the culture of a content-based English/Mathematics classroom in terms of mathematical and communicative discourse. The participants of this study were 21 multicultural secondary grade students and an international mathematics teacher in a content-based classroom of an international school in Turkey. The main data instrument was the researcher as a participant observer. The data were the audio-recordings gathered through 17 separate secondary grade lessons consisted of 540 minutes course-time. In the data analysis, two different methods were used: qualitative method to investigate the characteristics of the mathematical discourse and descriptive method to analyze the communicative discourse using a research-based scheme. The results indicated that in this multicultural content-based classroom, mathematical discourse was productive in terms of encouraging students to use the language of mathematics; strategies, solution methods and different perspectives; mathematical reasoning and mathematical justification; and connection between mathematical ideas/concepts and extension in mathematical thinking. As a result, the students in this classroom did and learned mathematics by participating in mathematical discourse. The teacher-students interactions were effective in terms of teaching mathematics but it needed to improve for developing learner's English. As this was a multicultural content-based classroom where English was the only medium of instruction, it carried features of mathematical discourse. Yet, in terms of communication, the teacher tended to ask questions to which she already knew the answers, and that restricted the variety of language forms that students could produce. To conclude, in a multicultural content-based classroom, mathematics instruction should aim to encourage English learner students to participate in communicative discourse more because they are not only learning mathematics but also English.