Transcoding of French numbers for first- and second-language learners in third grade

Transcoding of French numbers for first- and second-language learners in third grade

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Transcoding of French numbers for first- and second-language learners in third grade


Anne Lafay, Emmanuelle Adrien, Sabrina Di Lonardo Burr, Heather Douglas, Kim Provost-Larocque, Chang Xu, Jo-Anne LeFevre, Erin A Maloney, Helena P Osana, Sheri-Lynn Skwarchuk, and Judith Wylie

Journal and DOI

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology

Previous Research

Transcoding is the process of translating between spoken and written numbers, and it is correlated with other mathematical skills.

Vocabulary has shown to be related to performance in mathematical tasks such as word-problem solving that, like transcoding, require language skills.

Vocabulary skill, number naming, and number writing are related.

What did we ask?

This study investigated the link between the French number writing and language skills of first and second language French learners third graders.

  • Are second-language French learners less accurate in their transcoding than first-language French learners?
  • Is there a relationship between French number writing and language skills of children learning math in French in 3rd grade?

  • Would children produce more errors in transcoding with complex decade numbers (numbers containing 70-99) than simple decade numbers?

How did we do it?

49 students in the third grade (aged 7–9 years) learning math in French participated in this study.

  • Two language groups were created: First-language French learners and second-language French learners.

  • Children completed tests of their number transcoding abilities, tests of their linguistic abilities (receptive vocabulary, receptive syntax, and phonological awareness and word reading), and tests of their working memory.

What did we find?

This study found that both first- and second-language learners in 3rd grade were able to recognize and transcode French numbers from symbolic to non-symbolic forms.

First-language learners showed faster and more accurate performance than second language learners in the linguistic tasks, but not the transcoding tasks.

Receptive vocabulary knowledge was the only linguistic skill related to children’s number transcoding.

Both first- and second-language learners found complex decade numbers challenging and their performance was related to their general vocabulary skills.

Take away Message

It is important to understand the relationship between linguistic skills, transcoding, and language backgrounds so that students can receive the tailored support and interdisciplinary collaboration required to help them succeed and improve their learning.

Brought to you by Dr. Erin Maloney’s Cognition and Emotion Lab at the University of Ottawa and the Language Learning and Math Achievement Project.

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