Are We Teaching Math and Science through a Good Medium or Are We Teaching Math and Science?
|Math in Focus explains the role of the medium of instruction in Singapore Math|
Downloaded from http://www.hmheducation.com/singaporemath/ell.php
|Grade/ Subject||Singapore (%)||International Average (%)|
"...64 per cent and 66 per cent of Malaysia’s secondary students who had participated in the TIMSS study scored “Low” and “Below Low” in mathematics and science respectively...."
"The differences in their achievements highlight an important matter – the inaccuracy of the accusation that English as the medium of instruction in mathematics is the cause of the pupils’ less than ideal achievements in the said subject. This is because both groups of pupils were weak in content knowledge as evidenced by their low mean scores in both tests. Noteworthy as well was the fact that learners from the rural area were not significantly handicapped by the said language in their mathematics achievements. As for the urban pupils, while it was shown that they were slightly advantaged by the use of Bahasa Malaysia’s accommodation, the bulk of their inaccurate answers seem to originate from errors in content-knowledge. To reiterate a point made earlier, the pupils’ lower scores in the English Test should not summarily be assigned to the use of the English language as the medium of instruction alone. It is important to acknowledge that mathematical acumen also has a role to play in determining the pupils’ achievements in the said subject."
The difference between Singapore and Malaysia in math and science education is huge. More than 95% of Singapore children pass international exams in math and science. On the other hand, only about a third (34-36%) of Malaysian students pass. As the authors correctly state, perhaps, it is about time that we ask ourselves if we are in fact teaching students mathematics and the sciences. I actually do not think it is a wild guess that the problems lie in content teaching.