Teaching mathematics in ‘different tongues’

An analysis of mathematics anxiety and proficiency among elementary-grade learners



  • Aina Bael Bacolod-Iglesia BSEd Department, College of Teacher Education, Western Mindanao State University, Philippines
  • Hangeline Habibulla Dundain Busay Elementary School, Busay Isabela City | Graduate School, Western Mindanao State University, Philippines
  • Manilyn Vegare-Miñoza BEEd Department, College of Teacher Education, Western Mindanao State University, Philippines
  • Arvin Barretto Casimiro ILS Elementary Department, College of Teacher Education, Western Mindanao State University, Philippines


different tongues, elementary-grade learners, language of instruction, mathematics anxiety, mathematics


Language choice in teaching mathematics is a legitimate area of concern. It is noted that tension exists in classrooms where mathematics is taught in a language different from the first language spoken by the learners (Martínez & Dominguez, 2018). It is then a logical supposition to make that if students in mathematics classes are taught and tested in a language that is not their native their scores and proficiency levels may not be a true measure of their abilities, but a reflection of their mastery of the language used as medium of instruction (Haag, Heppt, Stanat, Kuhl & Pant, 2013). Against this contention, this study is conducted to determine the mathematics proficiency and anxiety of students learning mathematics across different local languages. In addition, the study analyzed whether significant differences exist in the investigated variables across gender. The study disclosed interesting results which were discussed herein.


Download data is not yet available.


Aarnos, E., & Perkkilä, P. (2012). Early signs of mathematics anxiety?. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 1495-1499. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.05.328

Aarnos, E., & Perkkilä, P. (2012). Early signs of mathematics anxiety?. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 1495-1499.

Abbasi, M., Samadzadeh, M., & Shahbazzadegan, B. (2013). Study of mathematics anxiety in high school students and it's relationship with self-esteem and teachers’ personality characteristics. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 672-677.

Abedi, J., & Lord, C. (2001). The language factor in mathematics tests. Applied measurement in education, 14(3), 219-234.

Adimora, D. E., Nwokenna, E. N., Omeje, J. C., & Eze, U. N. (2015). Influence of socio-economic status and classroom climate on mathematics anxiety of primary school pupils. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 205, 693-701.

Ahmadi, S. (2013). LTE-Advanced: a practical systems approach to understanding 3GPP LTE releases 10 and 11 radio access technologies. Academic Press.

Akinsola, M. K., Tella, A., & Tella, A. (2007). Correlates of academic procrastination and mathematics achievement of university undergraduate students. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, science and technology education, 3(4), 363-370.

Alieto, E. (2018). Language Shift from English to Mother Tongue: Exploring Language Attitude and Willingness to Teach among Pre-Service Teachers. Online Submission, 13(3), 134-146.

Allen, S., & Pappas, A. (1999). Enhancing math competency of baccalaureate students. Journal of Professional Nursing, 15(2), 123-129.

Ashcraft, M. H. (2002). Math anxiety: Personal, educational, and cognitive consequences. Current directions in psychological science, 11(5), 181-185.

Awofala, A. O. (2017). Assessing Senior Secondary School Students' Mathematical Proficiency as Related to Gender and Performance in Mathematics in Nigeria. International Journal of Research in Education and Science, 3(2), 488-502.

Bailey, A. L., Blackstock-Bernstein, A., & Heritage, M. (2015). At the intersection of mathematics and language: Examining mathematical strategies and explanations by grade and English learner status. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 40, 6-28.

Barrett, A. N., Barile, J. P., Malm, E. K., & Weaver, S. R. (2012). English proficiency and peer interethnic relations as predictors of math achievement among Latino and Asian immigrant students. Journal of adolescence, 35(6), 1619-1628.

Barton, B., & Neville-Barton, P. (2003). Language issues in undergraduate mathematics: A report of two studies. New Zealand Journal of Mathematics, 32(Supplementary Issue), 19-28.

Bekdemir, M. (2010). The pre-service teachers’ mathematics anxiety related to depth of negative experiences in mathematics classroom while they were students. Educational studies in mathematics, 75(3), 311-328.

Brady, P., & Bowd, A. (2005). Mathematics anxiety, prior experience and confidence to teach mathematics among pre?service education students. Teachers and teaching, 11(1), 37-46.

Brewster, B. J. M., & Miller, T. (2020). Missed Opportunity in Mathematics Anxiety. International Electronic Journal of Mathematics Education, 15(3).

Bull, W. E. (1955). The use of vernacular languages in education.

Burton, L. A. (2013). Mother tongue-based multilingual education in the Philippines: Studying top-down policy implementation from the bottom up (Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota).

Buxton, C. A., Salinas, A., Mahotiere, M., Lee, O., & Secada, W. G. (2013). Leveraging cultural resources through teacher pedagogical reasoning: Elementary grade teachers analyze second language learners' science problem solving. Teaching and Teacher Education, 32, 31-42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2013.01.003

Calderon, J. F., & Gonzalez, E. C. (1993). Methods of research and thesis writing. National Book store.

Carey, J. (1987, January). Time, space, and the Otherworld. In Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium (pp. 1-27). Dept. of Celtic Languages and Literatures, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.

Çatlio?lu, H., Birgin, O., Co?tu, S., & Gürbüz, R. (2009). The level of mathematics anxiety among pre-service elementary school teachers. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1(1), 1578-1581.

Cemen, P. B. (1987). The Nature of Mathematics Anxiety.

Cenzer, D., & Remmel, J. B. (1998). ?10 classes in mathematics. In Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics (Vol. 139, pp. 623-821). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0049-237X(98)80046-3

Cerbito, A. F. (2020). Comparative Analysis of Mathematics Proficiency and Attitudes toward Mathematics of Senior High School Student. Online Submission, 10(5), 211-222.

Chen, Y. C. (2019). Effect of mobile augmented reality on learning performance, motivation, and math anxiety in a math course. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 57(7), 1695-1722.

Chiu, L. H., & Henry, L. L. (1990). Development and validation of the Mathematics Anxiety Scale for Children. Measurement and evaluation in counseling and development.

Cordova, C., & Tan, D. A. (2018). Mathematics Proficiency, Attitude and Performance of Grade 9 Students in Private High School in Bukidnon, Philippines?. Asian Academic Research Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 5(2), 103-116.

Cragg, L., & Gilmore, C. (2014). Skills underlying mathematics: The role of executive function in the development of mathematics proficiency. Trends in neuroscience and education, 3(2), 63-68.

Cumming, A., & Riazi, A. (2000). Building models of adult second-language writing instruction. Learning and Instruction, 10(1), 55-71. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4752(99)00018-3

Dillman, D. A., Smyth, J. D., & Christian, L. M. (2014). Internet, phone, mail, and mixed-mode surveys. Hoboken.

Dowker, A., Sarkar, A., & Looi, C. Y. (2016). Mathematics anxiety: What have we learned in 60 years?. Frontiers in psychology, 7, 508.

Dreger, R. M., & Aiken Jr, L. R. (1957). The identification of number anxiety in a college population. Journal of Educational psychology, 48(6), 344.

Erden, M., & Akgül, S. (2010). Predictive Power Of Math Anxiety And Perceived Social Support From Teacher For Primary Students'mathematics Achievement. Journal of Theory & Practice In Education (JTPE), 6(1).

Espada, J. P. (2012). The native language in teaching kindergarten mathematics. Journal of International Education Research (JIER), 8(4), 359-366.

Fenoll, A. A. (2018). English proficiency and mathematics test scores of immigrant children in the US. Economics of Education Review, 64, 102-113.

Foncha, J. W., Abongdia, J. F. A., & Mkohlwa, T. (2016). The Impact of English First Additional Language as Medium of Instruction on the Teaching of Mathematics in Schools. International Journal of Educational Sciences, 13(3), 285-290.

Fredua-Kwarteng, E., & Ahia, F. (2015). Learning Mathematics in English at Basic Schools in Ghana: A Benefit or Hindrance?. European Journal of Educational Research, 4(3), 124-139.

Gandara, F., & Randall, J. (2019). Assessing mathematics proficiency of multilingual students: The case for translanguaging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Comparative Education Review, 63(1), 58-78.

George, D., & Mallery, P. (2016). SPSS for Windows Step by Step: A Simple Guide and Reference. 11.0 update , 2003.

Haag, N., Heppt, B., Stanat, P., Kuhl, P., & Pant, H. A. (2013). Second language learners' performance in mathematics: Disentangling the effects of academic language features. Learning and Instruction, 28, 24-34.

Hamza, E. G. A., & Helal, A. M. (2013). Maths anxiety in college students across majors: A cross-cultural study. Educationalfutures, 5(2), 58-74.

Hartono, H., Suparto, S., & Hassan, A. (2021). Language: a ‘mirror’ of the culture and its application English language teaching. Linguistics and Culture Review, 5(1), 93-103. https://doi.org/10.37028/lingcure.v5n1.835

Hembree, R. (1990). The nature, effects, and relief of mathematics anxiety. Journal for research in mathematics education, 21(1), 33-46.

Henry, D. L., Baltes, B., & Nistor, N. (2014). Examining the relationship between math scores and English language proficiency. Journal of Educational Research and Practice, 4(1), 2.

Hill, F., Mammarella, I. C., Devine, A., Caviola, S., Passolunghi, M. C., & Sz?cs, D. (2016). Maths anxiety in primary and secondary school students: Gender differences, developmental changes and anxiety specificity. Learning and Individual Differences, 48, 45-53.

Ho, H. Z., Senturk, D., Lam, A. G., Zimmer, J. M., Hong, S., Okamoto, Y., ... & Wang, C. P. (2000). The affective and cognitive dimensions of math anxiety: A cross-national study. Journal for research in Mathematics Education, 31(3), 362-379.

Hyde, J. S., Lindberg, S. M., Linn, M. C., Ellis, A. B., & Williams, C. C. (2008). Gender similarities characterize math performance. Science, 321(5888), 494-495.

Ismail, W. R., Mustafa, Z., Muda, N., Abidin, N. Z., Isa, Z., Zakaria, A. M., ... & Azlan, M. I. (2011). Students’ inclination towards English language as medium of instruction in the teaching of science and mathematics. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 18, 353-360.

Israel, O., & Thomas, O. (2013). Effect of Mother Tongue and Mathematical Language on Primary Pupils Performance in Mathematics. Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies, 3(4),542.

Jamison, R. E., & Matthews, G. L. (2006). Distance k colorings of Hamming graphs. Congressus Numerantium, 183, 193.

Jhingran, D. (2005). Language disadvantage: The learning challenge in primary education. APH Publishing.

Karasel, N., Ayda, O., & Tezer, M. (2010). The relationship between mathematics anxiety and mathematical problem solving skills among primary school students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 5804-5807.

Kargar, M., Tarmizi, R. A., & Bayat, S. (2010). Relationship between mathematical thinking, mathematics anxiety and mathematics attitudes among university students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 8, 537-542. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.12.074

Kendra, C. (2020). How Correlational Studies Are Used in Psychology. Retrieved from Verywellmind: https://www. verywellmind. com/correlational-research-2795774.

Keshavarzi, A., & Ahmadi, S. (2013). A comparison of mathematics anxiety among students by gender. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 542-546.

Kim, D. J., Ferrini-Mundy, J., & Sfard, A. (2012). How does language impact the learning of mathematics? Comparison of English and Korean speaking university students’ discourses on infinity. International Journal of Educational Research, 51, 86-108.

Kundu, S. C., & Kar, S. (2018). Mathematics anxiety and its relationship with the achievement of Secondary school students. International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews, 5(3).

Lamb, M. E. (1997). The development of father–infant relationships.

Lau, C., Kitsantas, A., & Miller, A. (2015). Using microanalysis to examine how elementary students self-regulate in math: A case study. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 174, 2226-2233. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.879

Lavasani, M. G., Hejazi, E., & Varzaneh, J. Y. (2011). The predicting model of math anxiety: The role of classroom goal structure, self-regulation and math self-efficacy. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15, 557-562.

Lee, J., Fox, J., & Brown, A. L. (2011). Content analysis of children’s mathematics proficiency. Education and Urban Society, 43(5), 627-641.

Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2000). Developing model-based reasoning in mathematics and science. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 21(1), 39-48. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0193-3973(99)00049-0

Leppävirta, J. (2011). The impact of mathematics anxiety on the performance of students of electromagnetics. Journal of Engineering Education, 100(3), 424-443.

Lewin, J. D., & Smith, P. F. (1996). Review of mathematics, numerical factors, and corrections for dark matter experiments based on elastic nuclear recoil. Astroparticle Physics, 6(1), 87-112. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0927-6505(96)00047-3

Liebert, R. M., & Morris, L. W. (1967). Cognitive and emotional components of test anxiety: A distinction and some initial data. Psychological reports, 20(3), 975-978.

MacKenzie, P. J. (2009). Mother tongue first multilingual education among the tribal communities in India. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 12(4), 369-385.

Maloney, E. A., & Retanal, F. (2020). Higher math anxious people have a lower need for cognition and are less reflective in their thinking. Acta psychologica, 202, 102939.

Marcelino, L., de Sousa, Ó., Cruz, V., & Lopes, A. (2012). Multi-Year Longitudinal Investigation of Children's Early Mathematics Development. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 69, 1911-1920.

Martínez, J. M., & Dominguez, H. (2018). Navigating mathematics and language tensions in language immersion classrooms. Teaching and Teacher Education, 75, 1-9.

McDonough, I. K., & Tra, C. I. (2017). The impact of computer-based tutorials on high school math proficiency. Empirical Economics, 52(3), 1041-1063.

Moenikia, M., & Zahed-Babelan, A. (2010). A study of simple and multiple relations between mathematics attitude, academic motivation and intelligence quotient with mathematics achievement. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2(2), 1537-1542.

Moses, R., & Cobb, C. E. (2002). Radical equations: Civil rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project. Beacon Press.

Mutodi, P., & Ngirande, H. (2014). Exploring mathematics anxiety: Mathematics students’ experiences. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(1), 283-283.

Novak, E., & Tassell, J. L. (2017). Studying preservice teacher math anxiety and mathematics performance in geometry, word, and non-word problem solving. Learning and Individual Differences, 54, 20-29.

Olmez, I. B., & Ozel, S. (2012). Mathematics anxiety among sixth and seventh grade Turkish elementary school students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 4933-4937.

Parsons, S., & Bynner, J. (2005). Does numeracy matter more?.

Pein, M., Kirsanov, D., Ciosek, P., del Valle, M., Yaroshenko, I., Weso?y, M., ... & Legin, A. (2015). Independent comparison study of six different electronic tongues applied for pharmaceutical analysis. Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis, 114, 321-329. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpba.2015.05.026

Perez, A. L., & Alieto, E. (2018). Change of" Tongue" from English to a Local Language: A Correlation of Mother Tongue Proficiency and Mathematics Achievement. Online Submission, 14, 132-150.

Prediger, S., Wilhelm, N., Büchter, A., Gürsoy, E., & Benholz, C. (2018). Language proficiency and mathematics achievement. Journal für Mathematik-Didaktik, 39(Supplement 1), 1-26.

Qiu, X., & Wu, S. S. (2019). Contextual variables of student math proficiency and their geographic variations in Missouri. Applied Geography, 109, 102040.

Rambely, A. S., Ahmad, R. R., Majid, N., & Jaaman, S. H. (2013). The Relationship of English Proficiency and Mathematics Achievement. In Recent Advances in Educational Technologies. Retrieved from http://www. wseas. us/elibrary/conferences/2013/Cambridge USA/EET/EET-24. pdf.

Ramirez, G., Hooper, S. Y., Kersting, N. B., Ferguson, R., & Yeager, D. (2018). Teacher math anxiety relates to adolescent students’ math achievement. Aera Open, 4(1), 2332858418756052.

Ramos, R., Baking, E., Quiambao, D., Nicdao, R., Nuqui, A., Cruz, R. (2015). The Reading Comprehension and Mathematics Proficiency Level of High School Students and Their Correlates. Journal of Business & Management Studies, 1(2), 1-7.

Reardon, S. F., & Galindo, C. (2007). Patterns of Hispanic students' math skill proficiency in the early elementary grades. Journal of Latinos and Education, 6(3), 229-251.

Richardson, F. C., & Suinn, R. M. (1972). The mathematics anxiety rating scale: psychometric data. Journal of counseling Psychology, 19(6), 551.

Robinson-Cimpian, J. P., Lubienski, S. T., Ganley, C. M., & Copur-Gencturk, Y. (2014). Teachers’ perceptions of students’ mathematics proficiency may exacerbate early gender gaps in achievement. Developmental psychology, 50(4), 1262.

Romberg, T. A. (1999). Mathematics classrooms that promote understanding. Routledge.

Ronda, R. A. (2012). DepEd to adopt new system to assess students' level of proficiency. Retrieved July, 24, 2018.

Rozgonjuk, D., Kraav, T., Mikkor, K., Orav-Puurand, K., & Täht, K. (2020). Mathematics anxiety among STEM and social sciences students: the roles of mathematics self-efficacy, and deep and surface approach to learning. International Journal of STEM Education, 7(1), 1-11.

Saalbach, H., Eckstein, D., Andri, N., Hobi, R., & Grabner, R. H. (2013). When language of instruction and language of application differ: Cognitive costs of bilingual mathematics learning. Learning and Instruction, 26, 36-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2013.01.002

Samadzadeh, M., Abbasi, M., & Shahbazzadegan, B. (2013). The effect of visual arts on education of coping strategies in annoyed children. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 771-775.

Schillinger, F. L., Vogel, S. E., Diedrich, J., & Grabner, R. H. (2018). Math anxiety, intelligence, and performance in mathematics: Insights from the German adaptation of the Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale (AMAS-G). Learning and Individual Differences, 61, 109-119.

Segumpan, L. L. B., & Tan, D. A. (2018). Mathematics performance and anxiety of junior high school students in a flipped classroom. European Journal of Education Studies.

Setia, M. S. (2016). Methodology series module 3: Cross-sectional studies. Indian journal of dermatology, 61(3), 261.

Sevindir, H. K., Yazici, C., & Yazici, V. (2014). Mathematics anxiety of secondary school students: A case study for kocaeli area. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 152, 630-636.

Shafer, M. C., & Romberg, T. A. (1999). Assessment in classrooms that promote understanding (pp. 171-196). Routledge.

Sheffield, D., & Hunt, T. (2006). How does anxiety influence maths performance and what can we do about it. MSOR CONNECTIONS, 6(4), 19.

Sheldon, S. B., Epstein, J. L., & Galindo, C. L. (2010). Not just numbers: Creating a partnership climate to improve math proficiency in schools. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 9(1), 27-48.

Singh, Y. K. (2006). Fundamental of research methodology and statistics. New Age International.

Skagerlund, K., Östergren, R., Västfjäll, D., & Träff, U. (2019). How does mathematics anxiety impair mathematical abilities? Investigating the link between math anxiety, working memory, and number processing. PloS one, 14(1), e0211283.

Slipchuk, V., Yuzkiv, H., Batechko, N., Pisotska, M., & Klymenko, L. (2021). The development of academic mobility among the students of universities. Linguistics and Culture Review, 5(S3), 224-236. https://doi.org/10.37028/lingcure.v5nS3.1514

Sokolowski, H. M., Hawes, Z., & Lyons, I. M. (2019). What explains sex differences in math anxiety? A closer look at the role of spatial processing. Cognition, 182, 193-212.

Van der Sandt, S., & O'Brien, S. (2017). Impact of Instructor Teaching Style and Content Course on Mathematics Anxiety of Preservice Teachers. Journal of Technology Education, 29(1), 95-111.

Vitasari, P., Herawan, T., Wahab, M. N. A., Othman, A., & Sinnadurai, S. K. (2010). Exploring mathematics anxiety among engineering students. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 8, 482-489.

Vukovic, R. K., & Lesaux, N. K. (2013). The language of mathematics: Investigating the ways language counts for children’s mathematical development. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 115(2), 227-244.

Vukovic, R. K., Kieffer, M. J., Bailey, S. P., & Harari, R. R. (2013). Mathematics anxiety in young children: Concurrent and longitudinal associations with mathematical performance. Contemporary educational psychology, 38(1), 1-10.

Wadlington, E., & Wadlington, P. L. (2008). Helping students with mathematical disabilities to succeed. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 53(1), 2-7.

Wahid, S. N. S., Yusof, Y., & Razak, M. R. (2014). Math anxiety among students in higher education level. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 123, 232-237.

Wigfield, A., & Meece, J. L. (1988). Math anxiety in elementary and secondary school students. Journal of educational Psychology, 80(2), 210.

Wilkinson, L. C. (2018). Teaching the language of mathematics: What the research tells us teachers need to know and do. The Journal of Mathematical Behavior, 51, 167-174.

Zaslavsky, C. (1994). Fear of math: How to get over it and get on with your life. Rutgers University Press.

Zhang, J., Zhao, N., & Kong, Q. P. (2019). The relationship between math anxiety and math performance: A meta-analytic investigation. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1613.



How to Cite

Bacolod-Iglesia, A. B., Dundain, H. H., Vegare-Miñoza, M., & Casimiro, A. B. (2021). Teaching mathematics in ‘different tongues’: An analysis of mathematics anxiety and proficiency among elementary-grade learners. Linguistics and Culture Review, 5(S2), 860-891. https://doi.org/10.21744/lingcure.v5nS2.1523



Research Articles