Document Type


Article Version


Publication Date



The issues involved in teaching English language learners mathematics while they are learning English pose many challenges for mathematics teachers and highlight the need to focus on language-processing issues related to teaching mathematical content. Two realistic-type problems from high-stakes tests are used to illustrate the complex interactions between culture, language, and mathematical learning. The analyses focus on aspects of the problems that potentially increase cognitive demands for second-language learners. An analytical framework is presented that is designed to enable mathematics teachers to identify critical elements in problems and the learning environment that contribute to increased cognitive demands for students of English as a second language. The framework is proposed as a cycle of teacher reflection that would extend a constructivist model of teaching to include broader linguistic, cultural, and cognitive processing issues of mathematics teaching, as well as enable teachers to develop more accurate mental models of student learning.


Copyright 2007 Taylor & Francis

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Mathematical Thinking and Learning in 2007, available online:

Publication Title

Mathematical Thinking and Learning

Published Citation

Campbell, Anne. E., Verna Adams & Gary Davis. (2007) Cognitive demands and second-language learners: A framework for analyzing mathematical instructional contexts. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 9(1), 3-30. doi:10.1080/10986060709336603.



Peer Reviewed