Language as resource: a key notion for understanding the complexity of mathematics learning

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© 2018, The Author(s). The thinking of language as resource in mathematics education research has been more metaphorical than conceptual so far. This article provides grounds and reasons for the theorization of language as resource. Based on views from sociolinguistics and functional grammar, I propose a theorization that considers the social languages of learners and the systems of language as discursive dialectical sites of potential/actual and shared/non-shared meaning production. I illustrate the analysis of a text of a student group work in order to inform the discussion. The approach to data analysis seeks out tensions between potentially realizable and actual meaning in the immediacy of situations embedded in cultures of school mathematics and the official language of instruction. In the midst of social and personal relationships and diverse experiences in/of the world, language is a shifting resource for the communication of tensions regarding languages of learners and the creation of newer situations toward the production of meaning taken as mathematical and shared.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-229
JournalEducational Studies in Mathematics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Culture
  • Discourse
  • Language
  • Language as resource
  • Mathematics learning
  • Meaning potential


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