How adult migrant students learn maths. : Adult students understanding and engaging with maths.
The aim of this study is to explore the adult immigrant students’ experience of maths in Sweden. I will present an understanding rather than an explanation on how second language adult students learn maths. It can be argued that people who study maths as adults in a new homeland and in a foreign language face particular challenges. At the same time research reports that people sometimes approach the subject in a more fruitful way as adults compared to their childhood experiences. I want to contribute to the general knowledge of the subject and furthermore provide improved understanding of how mathematics teachers can guide their students towards their goals.I have performed semi-structured qualitative research interviews. My informants are my own maths students on the basic level with incomplete grades in maths from secondary school, or they have failed in their maths studies in upper secondary school due to a low level of know-ledge. They are over 20 years of age and they are all immigrants and have arrived in Sweden as adults. I have used my students statements, written as narratives as the material which is to be interpreted and understood. Because of my use of my own students in the interview, I will not take into account their statements about the teacher’s role in my conclusion.I find that:1. The difficult experience of being forced to leave the home country, together with a wish to take revenge on the failures from their youth, can lead to a kind of struggle for decom-pensation that can be reflected in the participants' positive evaluation of their maths studies.2. Having a family is a great motivational help for studying regardless of the time it takes to take care of the same.3. The memories of previous failures with the incomprehensible, abstract mathematics characterise the students’ inception of the subject.4. It seems possible that adult students can understand themselves in a new way and redefine their relationship with maths and their own ability to study the subject.
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