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Language Training in Mathematics Teaching

Award for TU Dort­mund University’s Math Teaching Concept

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Porträtfoto Susanne Prediger © Roland Baege​/​TU Dort­mund
The SiMa Teaching and Training Concept was developed and tested by Professor Susanne Prediger of TU Dort­mund University.

Award for Professor Susanne Prediger and her team at TU Dort­mund University and the German Centre for Mathematics Teacher Education (DZLM): On 21 October they received the 1st Polytechnic Prize. The prize awarded by the Polytechnic Foundation of Frankfurt am Main is worth € 50,000 and honors particularly innovative subject-related teaching concepts.

The teaching concept

As all performance assessment studies show: Students with low language proficiency are unable to learn as much in ostensibly non-linguistic subjects, such as mathematics, as their peers who are linguistically more proficient. It is therefore important to foster language proficiency in the teaching of specific subjects. For many years now, Professor Susanne Prediger and her 19-person team at TU Dort­mund University have worked hard to identify how this can best be achieved. On the basis of their research, she and her team have developed a teaching concept for language training in mathematics teaching (SiMa) and put it into practice in the shape of teaching materials. The SiMa teaching concept makes it possible for all students not only to learn mathematical rules but also to explain mathematical concepts and use them to argue their case. This is supported by learning situations that involve an extensive use of language and language memories based on graphics.

The training concept

As Deputy Director of the German Centre for Mathematics Teacher Education, Susanne Prediger knows that innovative teaching concepts only then catch on in teaching practice when teachers are also given further training in the new fields. Research was needed for developing the SiMa training concept too, this time regarding the question of what teachers find easy and where they need special support.

“All teachers want to help students with low language proficiency. Some of them, however, only by simplifying the language they use. In our training sessions, we work together on just the opposite: We insist on an extensive use of language so that children must explain and argue their case over and over again, first of all with the help of pictures and in the respective context and only later in a formal way. Teachers reflect on examples and videos and in doing so can learn how to put this into practice,” explains Professor Prediger. In a large-scale field study with 79 classes, her team was indeed able to demonstrate that such language training in mathematics teaching leads to a better performance in mathematics than normal teaching. And this includes those students with low language proficiency – something particularly remarkable.

The prize

The goal of the Polytechnic Prize is to honor education experts nationwide for their outstanding services to the further development of teaching practice. This year, teaching concepts in the STEM subjects were sought which implement a constructive approach to diversity – language competence is an important factor here. “We’re incredibly pleased about the Polytechnic Prize. We feel honored to have been chosen from among the abundance of fantastic and innovative concepts which were nominated. It’s not a matter of course in subject didactics that both our research work and our transfer activities are appreciated in this manner,” said Professor Prediger on behalf of her team.

Professor Jürg Kramer, Director of the German Centre for Mathematics Teacher Education, congratulated Professor Prediger and her team on their success: “The key to SiMa’s success lies in the close dovetailing of design research in the field of subject didactics and practice, that is, collaboration with teachers as well as colleagues from training institutes. This exchange between equals is essential for the successful transfer of knowledge and research results into practice. The SiMa project illustrates this in a very impressive way.”


The SiMa Teaching and Training Concept was developed and tested by Professor Susanne Prediger of TU Dort­mund University. She was appointed as professor at the Institute for Development and Research in Mathematics Education (IEEM) of TU Dort­mund University in 2006 and is in charge of the 19-person “MuM” research group, which is concerned with mathematics and multilingualism. She has been Deputy Director of the German Centre for Mathematics Teacher Education since 2017, where together with eight other universities she develops and tests training measures for mathematics teachers in order to help them, in collaboration with institutes at federal state level, to further enhance their teaching. 


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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Universität"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the university: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Universität S".

Dort­mund Airport offers flights to several destinations in Central Europe. There are regular connections to Katowice, Kraków, London and Munich. For the approximately 20km-trip from Dort­mund Airport to TU Dort­mund University, you can use a shuttle bus to the railway Station "Bahnhof Holzwickede", from which trains depart to Dort­mund main station (please visit Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr for more information). Normally, the fastest way is to catch a taxi at Dort­mund Airport.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Universität S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.