Pupils and teacher working math problems in the classroom

Doctoral project: Multilingual mathematics teacher's professional identity in multilingual mathematics classrooms

The aim of this project is to explore the experiences of multilingual mathematics teachers in compulsory Swedish education, characterised by language-diverse classrooms. The theoretical lens of professional identity is followed to increase the knowledge about being a multilingual mathematics teacher while engaging in the current educational context in relation to mathematics and multilingualism.

Doctoral student
Danai Dafnopoulou
Hanna Palmér
Assistant supervisors
Jeppe Skott and Andreas Ebbelind
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
Linnaeus University
October 2020 – september 2025
Mathematics Education, Department of Mathematics, (Faculty of Technology)
Research group
Mathematics Education

More about the project

In a world where population mobility and immigration are more common than ever, all parts of education are affected. Teachers’ and students' different linguistic and cultural backgrounds coexist in everyday mathematics classrooms, especially in Sweden. Surprisingly, for many who consider mathematics an ‘international language’, school mathematics meets new challenges due to international mobilities.

Researchers have argued that mathematics teachers are responsible for supporting newcomer students to succeed in mathematics, but at the same time, they are being publicly criticised if they use their own linguistic and cultural background to achieve that. Only in Sweden at least 20% of the teachers in compulsory education have been educated abroad. This means that a respective amount of mathematics teachers in Sweden speak languages other than Swedish and have educational experiences from different countries that could be a resource for teaching mathematics to multilingual students.

So, ‘Who is a multilingual teacher of mathematics’ is a real question in these polarised situations that a multilingual mathematics teacher is working under. According to the former overarching question, this project aims to explore multilingual mathematics teachers' professional identities in Swedish compulsory education, which is characterised by multilingual mathematics classrooms. Two multilingual mathematics teachers of immigrant backgrounds working in upper primary and lower secondary levels were followed over an academic year. The data material collected, consists of observations of teaching in multilingual classrooms of mathematics and collaborating with others in the school. Interviews of teachers' reflections on mathematics lessons, stories about their past education, teaching experiences and thoughts about being teachers of mathematics nowadays are additional data material collected. The goal of the project is to develop an overarching story, which represents and disentangles how the multifaceted experiences of speaking different languages and being educated and employed in different educational contexts become actualised in the person who teaches mathematics in Sweden nowadays.

The project is a part of the research in the Mathematics Education research group