Does international education risk the development of students’ mother tongues? An investigation into language use in Mathematics classrooms
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Many see bilingual education as the path to success in a world where English is increasingly becoming the lingua franca. However this can come at the price of not developing your native tongue, especially in subjects with very specific language like Mathematics, which is largely learnt at school. In this study we made an in depth study of language use during one Mathematics class with Dutch learners in an international school. Starting with a pre survey to investigate their perceptions of language use, we went on to observe a lesson and checked our results with a post validation exercise and test. Our initial expectation was that learners would code switch into Dutch when discussing mathematical problems. However we found that they used English almost exclusively, suggesting that they lacked sufficient register in their mother tongue. While limited, our research at least suggests that the Dutch vocabulary of our students is not being adequately developed.