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ERIC Number: EJ902656
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 19
ISSN: ISSN-1326-0111
Language Negotiations Indigenous Students Navigate when Learning Science
Chigeza, Philemon
Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, v37 p91-97 2008
This paper reports on implications of a research study with a group of 44 Indigenous middle school students learning the science concepts of energy and force. We found the concepts of energy and force need to be taught in English as we failed to find common comparable abstract concepts in the students' diverse Indigenous languages. Three categories of describing the concepts were identified: nine students who used scientific genre to explain and demonstrate the concepts (20%); 15 students who used limited scientific genre to explain and demonstrate the concepts in terms of direct action (35%); and 20 students who did not use scientific genre to either describe or display by direct action their knowledge of the concepts (45%). Indigenous students learning school science navigate language negotiations before negotiating the language challenges in science learning. School science achievement is measured using Standard Australian English concept descriptors. These assessment instruments are designed to measure the student's negotiations from Standard Australian English into science. It is possible that these instruments do not adequately measure the Indigenous student's negotiations from their vernacular language into science. Developing a Creole science could empower Indigenous students learning school science to develop the capacity to successfully negotiate the language systems. (Contains 1 table and 3 models.)
University of Queensland. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia. Tel: +61-7-3365-1969; Fax: +61-7-3365-6855; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Program for International Student Assessment