How the Language of Instruction Influences Mathematical Thinking Development in the First Years of Bilingual Schoolers

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The present research study focuses on how the language of instruction has an impact on the mathematical thinking development as a consequence of using a language of instruction different from the students’ mother tongue. In CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) academic content and a foreign language are leant at the same time, a methodology that is widely used in the schools in the present times. It is, therefore, our main aim to study if the language of instruction in second language immersion programs influences the development of the first formal mathematical concepts. More specifically, if the learning of mathematical concepts in the early ages develops in a similar way if it is taught in the students’ mother tongue and is not influenced by the language used for teaching. Or else, if it can influence the development of the first skills only in the students’ general performance or in certain areas. The results of both the analysis of variance and multiple regression confirm how influencing the language of instruction is when mathematical thinking is developed teaching formal contents in a non-coincidence language. The second language is affecting the resolution of daily life problems, being more competent those students in 1st grades whose language of instruction matched with their mother tongue.