This article discusses algebraic thinking regarding positive integers and rational numbers when students, 6 to 9 years old in multilingual classrooms, are engaged in an algebraic learning activity proposed by the El’konin and Davydov curriculum. The main results of this study indicate that young, newly arrived students, through tool-mediated joint reflective actions as suggested in the ED curriculum, succeeded in analysing arithmetical structures of positive integers and rational numbers. When the students participated in this type of learning activity, they were able to reflect on the general structures of numbers established as additive relationships (addition and subtraction) as well as multiplicative relationships (multiplication and division) and mixtures thereof, thus a core foundation of algebraic thinking. The students then used algebraic symbols, line segments, verbal, written, and gesture language to elaborate and construct models related to these relationships. This is in spite of the fact that most of the students were second language learners. Elaborated in common experiences staged in the lessons, the learning models appeared to bridge the lack of common verbal language as the models visualized aspects of the relationships among numbers in a public manner on the whiteboard. These learning actions created rich opportunities for bridging tensions in relation to language demands in the multilingual classroom.

Find it here: 'Learning actions indicating algebraic thinking in multilingual classrooms'