Summer 7-28-2016



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Anne DeMuth

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Kristin Liu

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Olivia Disselkamp


This quantitative study examined the linguistic features that are used in directional sentences in an upper-elementary mathematics textbook. Specifically, the research addressed grammatical and syntactical features (i.e. complex phrases, lexical bundles, vocabulary) that research literature identified as difficult aspects of the language of mathematics to determine whether those same features were present in directions. Directional sentences from Math in Focus (grade 4) were compiled into a corpus which was analyzed for the presence of difficult linguistic features according to research. Words in the corpus were then compared to identified vocabulary lists to reveal potentially difficult academic and content vocabulary. Results indicate that ELs would benefit from explicit instruction on the structure of commands, verb-initial sentences, and the use of everyday vocabulary in the language of mathematics. The results suggest that teachers should adjust their instructional discourse to connect to the verb-initial command structure prevalent in the analyzed directional sentences.

Research Methodology

Text Analyses, Linguistic Analysis; Quantitative Research


ESL/ ELLs, Language of Mathematics

Included in

Education Commons