Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Zeena Zakharia

Second Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Third Advisor

Tricia Kress


Current research shows that nearly all states are struggling to meet the academic target in mathematics set in 1994 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) for multilingual English learners (ELs). According to NCTM standards, ELs are expected to learn mathematics regardless of their English development level (ELD). However, one of the many factors contributing to the learning difficulties of ELs is that the current culture of U.S. public schools does not consider these students’ sociocultural and historical experiences with math knowledge. Another inhibiting factor is that math is about more than just numbers; mathematics education involves terminology, concepts, and oral and written language around problem comprehension and solutions, including the basic language used by math teachers. ELs also use translanguaging (García & Kleyn, 2016) as a tool for triangulating and gaining access to their linguistic repertoire for comprehension of the subject, thereby increasing their success in mathematics classrooms. This qualitative ethnographic case study seeks to understand the role of translanguaging in the mathematics learning of ELs in an English-only math setting. Using a Vygotskian cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) lens, the study seeks to uncover the potential of translanguaging as a viable strategy for achieving the high standards that NCTM has set for all learners of mathematics.


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