The language of science and the high school student: The recognition of concept definitions: A comparison between hindi speaking students in India and english speaking students in Australia



Sixteen concept words (mass, length, area, volume, solid, liquid, gas, element, compound, mixture, electron, proton, neutron, atom, molecule, and ion) associated with the theme, the nature of matter were described as simple text book definitions after examination of classroom notes and school texts of the last three decades. Sixteen multiple-choice items all of the same form were constructed for each of the concept definitions. The English version of the sixteen item test was given to 1635 high school students in Tasmania (where the language of instruction and the home language is English) and the Hindi version of the test was given to 826 students from the Bhopal/Barwani region of India where the medium of instruction is Hindi. The English and Hindi speaking data are compared from the point of view of development, performance for individual items, and overall performance at grade 10. A number of linguistic hypotheses are examined and reported upon. Although the overall score at grade 10 was identical (10.8/16) for both groups there are differences in development overall and for individual items which are of interest. Overall, the science specificity of the Hindi words does not appear to confer any clearly defined advantage or disadvantage though again there are some interesting individual anomolies.