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European Commission - Comenius

European Commission - Education and Culture

Project Details

MAking MAThEmatics TEAchers MObile

129543-CP-1-2006-1 -IT-COMENIUS-C21


Project span

Project Coordinator

CAFRE Centro di Ateneo di Formazione e Ricerca Educativa
Università di Pisa

Contact person


Project Partners

(AT) Universität Wien

(CZ) Univerzita Karlova v Praze

(DK) University College Lillebælt, Skårup Seminarium

(FR) Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maîtres de l'Académie de Créteil

Teaching Maths in a Foreign Language
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Austrian Data Analysis of the Questionnaire for Teachers

About you
  1. 19 teachers have answered, they all teach in both upper and lower secondary school.
  2. They all teach at least two subjects (as per the Austrian teacher education system), all of them taught mathematics plus: 7 teach physics, 4 biology, 4 geometry, 3 geography, 3 computer science, 3 Hungarian, 1 French, 1 German, 1 English, 1 art, 1 music.
  3. All of them speak English; in addition, 6 speak French, 3 speak Italian, 2 speak Spanish, 1 Turkish, 1 Czech, 1 Slovak, 1 Russian, 1 Portuguese.
  4. 3 teachers assess their English standard high, 16 have school standard.
Professional experiences
  1. 5 teachers have asked a language teacher about a mathematical term in another language.
  2. 4 teachers have been asked by a language teacher about the meaning of a mathematical term.
  3. 4 teachers have taught mathematics in a foreign language (2 more often, 2 only occasionally).

  4. 4 teachers have frequent collaboration with language teachers, 1 occasional collaboration, 16 have no collaboration.

  5. 3 teachers have a high knowledge as to bilingual models and could name more than one model, 12 teachers could name European Schools, 6 teachers have no knowledge.

  1. 5 teachers said it is important to know a foreign language to teach, mainly because of the fact that one gains more insight into the importance of language in teaching mathematics. 6 think it could be helpful under certain circumstances (most mentioned minorities in the classroom), 2 think it is not important at all.
  2. 6 teachers said it would be an increase in the language competence, 5 mentioned an increased chance of overcoming inhibitions at mathematical or language questions, 4 mentioned mental mobility, 2 broadening personal horizon, 1 the increased necessity for teachers to have a closer look at the formulations.
  3. Most teachers (11) mentioned the danger of misunderstanding (both subject related and classroom management related), 4 mentioned problems with time management, 2 had doubts that mathematics might not be taught in an exact way because of lack of language competence, 1 criticised the extra learning expenditure, 1 neglect of the mother tongue, 1 feared the teacher might feel inferior to the students because of lack of language competence.
  4. 11 teachers think it is possible to teach mathematics in a foreign language, 6 of them warned of the danger of not being able to understand the students’ learning problems.

  5. Most teachers did not offer opinions here because of lack of experience. The few who did mentioned the increase of paying attention to language aspects in teaching mathematics.
  6. Again most teachers did not give statements here, but 3 mentioned an additional context for the language teacher, as well as a broadening of the terms and (special) vocabulary used in the foreign language teaching.

  7. The topics that can ideally be taught in a foreign language would be:

  • Infinity
  • Arithmetic operations
  • Graphic topics
  • Text equations
  • Differential calculus
  • Computer related topics

Professional development

  1. 5 teachers have taught in collaboration with another subjects’ teacher.

  2. 6 teachers said it would be helpful, mainly because of the need to reconsider ones’ language while teaching, and the need to explain things more carefully. 1 said it would not be helpful, as the teacher might be confused because of special terms having other meanings in another language.

  3. 4 teachers agree that it would also be helpful for language teachers, both to broaden their horizon and to give them additional topics to talk about in language teaching.

  4. 8 teachers said that it would be profitable for their professional development, mostly because of being able to read texts (also at internet resources) and math education literature in foreign languages (6 teachers).

  5. Most teachers did not give a statement because of lack of experience. 3 answered positive.

  6. The prerequisites needed: high language competence (11 teachers), interest in the foreign language (2), high mathematical competence (1).

  7. Most teachers did not answer the question, 4 said that it might be more difficult to the teacher, as he feels less confident about the language than the students, so even higher fluency in the language would be required for the teacher.

  8. 13 Teachers mentioned special multilingual courses and studies (with special vocabulary, practical examples, lectures, and students’ work); 7 suggested stays abroad, 3 teaching abroad.


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