Richard Barwell


I am originally from the UK, where I studied mathematics at the University of Warwick and then became a mathematics teacher. I worked first at a high school in the UK and then as a teacher and teacher educator in Pakistan (with VSO), where I became interested in the role of languages in learning mathematics. Returning to study, I completed a master’s and doctorate in mathematics education at the University of Bristol, where I subsequently taught in the master’s and doctoral programs in education. In 2006, I moved to the University of Ottawa.

Research Interest 

My research looks at the role of language in learning and teaching mathematics. I am interested in how teachers use language in their teaching of mathematics and how students use language to think about mathematics. I have investigated how second language learners or bilingual learners participate in school mathematics. I have investigated how mathematicians use language to talk about mathematics. And I have investigated how researchers use language to write about mathematical thinking. More recently, I have become interested in how mathematics education can address the issue of climate change.


  1. Barwell, R. (2013) The academic and the everyday in mathematicians’ talk: the case of the hyper-bagel. Language and Education 27(3) 207-222.
  2. Barwell, R. (2013) The mathematical formatting of climate change: critical mathematics education and post-normal science. Research in Mathematics Education 15(1) 1-16.
  3. Coles, A., Barwell, R., Cotton, T., Winter J. & Brown, L. (2013) Teaching Secondary Mathematics as If the Planet Matters. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
  4. Barwell, R. (2012) Heteroglossia in multilingual mathematics classrooms. In Forgasz, H. & Rivera, F. (Eds.) Towards Equity in Mathematics Education: Gender, Culture and Diversity, pp. 315-332. Heidelberg: Springer.
  5. Barwell, R. (2012) Discursive demands and equity in second language mathematics classrooms. In Herbel-Eisenmann, B., Choppin, J., Wagner, D. & Pimm, D. (Eds.) Equity in Discourse for Mathematics Education: Theories, Practices, and Policies, pp. 147-164. New York, NY: Springer.
  6. Barwell, R. (Ed.) (2009) Mathematics in Multilingual Classrooms: Global Perspectives. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  7. Barwell, R., Setati, M. & Barton, B. (Eds.) (2007) Multilingualism in mathematics education. Special Issue of Educational Studies in Mathematics, Vol. 64 no. 2.