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Case Study Code-switching and Learning in the Classroom

Danile Moore
EA 2534 Plurilinguisme et Apprentissages, Ecole Normale Suprieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines, 15 Parvis Ren Descartes, 69366 Lyon, France
This paper addresses the issue of code-switching in the classroom and analyses the roles and functions of the first language (L1) in the second language (L2) class.The observation of intra-sententialcode-switching shows complex learning and communicative strategies, and emphasises the need to better understand these strategies and their role in the learning process.

This paper addresses the issue of code-switching in the classroom, and the ways in which the alternate use of codes is related to learning processes, whether linguistic or not. We wish to analyse the roles and functions of the first language (L1) in the second language classroom (L2), at elementary level in two educational contexts: a French school in Spain (SP),1 and a bilingual programme in French and Italian in the Aosta Valley in Italy (AO)2. Each programme emphasises the relationships between the languages in contact in very different ways. In the first situation, the French school abroad, all teachers are native French speakers, with little or average competence in Spanish, the native language of most of their students. French is the language used as the main medium of instruction. There is no official guidance as to potential roles of the childrens native language in the mainstream classroom, and teachers usually assume it safer to avoid its use whenever possible, except with younger children (Matthey & Moore, 1997). Specific historical circumstances have led to very distinctive educational choices and language provisions in the second situation. Institutional support has made it possible for the Aosta Valley, Italy, to develop a bilingual programme in Italian and French, involving the primary school system since 1989. The programme was extended to secondary schools several years later (Cavalli, 1998). More specifically, the whole teaching and learning experience is built on the basis of language alternation, with the fundamental idea that the alternate use of both languages reinforces awareness of the free, non fixed relationship between objects and their labels and the necessary ability to separate words and concepts. Language alternation should help promote metalinguistic awareness, through the communicative use of the two languages (Coste, 1994a; Coste, 2000; Coste & Pasquier, 1992; Gajo & Serra, 1999). The two situations are intrinsically interesting because they respectively offer a monolingual and a bilingual view on bilingualism (Gajo, 2000). They accord1367-0050/02/05 0279-15 $20.00/0 International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 2002 D. Moore Vol. 5, No. 5, 2002

279 Code-switching and Learning in the Classroom


Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

ingly develop congruous philosophies about bilingualism and the subsequent role of L1 in bilingual development. Either bilingualism is considered as the addition of two separate competences, or as the development of a composite repertoire, original and complex (Grosjean, 1982; Moore & Py, 1995), where the different languages in contact interact and combine. For Gajo (2000: 112), the bilingual view implies considering bilingualism not only as a finished product, but also as a partner in the acquisition process. L1 is both a manifestation of bilingualism and a potential help to its development. On the macro level, each philosophy leads to different choices in the roles assigned to L1 in the classroom. Nevertheless, on the micro level, teachers in both situations seem to remain hesitant towards code-switches and old models usually prevail (Matthey & Moore, 1997). But despite open reluctance, observation shows a great deal of flexibility towards switches, especially at elementary school levels when learners are developing both linguistic and cognitive competence (Cambra, 1998). More importantly, observation of inter- and intra-sentential code-switching shows complex learning and communicative strategies. It is not our ambition here to make a systematic comparison in code-switching strategies used in different situations. Rather, we wish to highlight a few of the multiple functionings of code-switches in the classroom, and to emphasise the need to understand such strategies better and to appreciate their role in the learning process.

Bilingual Interaction in Context

A sociolinguistic perspective on the role of L1 in second language acquisition In recent years, a growing body of literature has emerged in which analyses of second language acquisition and the use of two languages in educational contexts have been the centre of attention (Bourgvignon et al., 1994; Nussbaum, 1991; Pekarek, 1999; etc.). In particular, research bearing on the influence of L1 in L2 learning situations marked a considerable shift from earlier studies both in the way data are collected and analysed, and in the linguistic interpretation attached to the role of L1 in L2 acquisition. The prevailing view at the beginning of the 1970s was based on Lados work (1957). Contrastive analysis was then used to reveal sources of potential difficulties for learners by identifying the linguistic gaps between the two languages involved in the learning process. Despite a rocky history (Gass & Selinker, 1994), and large amendments to the interpretation of cross-linguistic influence and transfer from L1 (Odlin, 1989), the role of L1 in the formation and use of interlanguage is still regarded as problematic, especially in the classroom context. A view still commonly shared among L2 teachers is to avoid the use of L1 in L2 classes as much as possible, and to remain highly suspicious of intra-sentential mixing of the two languages. Nevertheless, interand intra-sentential switchings do occur in the classroom, especially with young children at early learning stages. A closer look at the phenomena at stake tends to reveal that the use of L1 in a L2-based sentence can play significant roles in the learning process. It could therefore be hasty to consider switches as no more than a mere discursive proof of lack of competence. Another perspective for research is a sociolinguistic approach to language learning and use. An important contribution to this approach concerns the field

Code-switching and Learning in the Classroom


of bilingualism and bilingual interaction. At first embedded in the study of speech patterns and bilingual behaviour in terms of their social functions within various bilingual speech communities (Milroy & Muysken, 1995; Romaine, 1989), research finally became concerned with bilingual interaction within the classroom (Martin-Jones, 1995). Researchers like Milk (1990) or Merritt (1992) adopt a sociolinguistic approach to the analysis of classroom discourse functions, by linking for example communicative choices and transmission of language values and models. Increasing attention is therefore paid to the role of context in acquisition and the way contextual variables affect the learning and production of a second language (Ellis & Roberts, 1987). In a social interactionist perspective, language and social interaction are tightly interwoven and the acquisition process is deeply embedded in the interactional context it stems from. The interactional dimension of language learning appears in Vygotskys proximal zone of development (1962), which defines the gap between what a learner can and cannot do with language according to whether the learner can or cannot benefit from the linguistic expertise of a more fluent speaker. L1 and its role in L2-negotiations As Gass and Selinker (1994) remind us, conversational negotiations play an important role in focusing attention on areas of language that do not match with the experts model provided. These negotiations open the path to the need for mutual adjustment, and usually lead to an attempt towards simplification or reformulation on the part of the expert. Exchanges of the sort exemplified in the next section are frequent. They show some sort of modification of the form of the speech produced by the interlocutors, and also modification of the structure of the conversation itself. Great efforts are made to ensure the flow of conversation is maintained despite sometimes limited linguistic skills on the young learners part. At the same time, considerable effort is devoted to checking linguistic forms and encouraging proficiency in the second language. Learners need to overcome communication problems as they emerge and simultaneously they should be producing language appropriate to the situation. Teachers need to reduce the burden for the learners and assist them in understanding and in producing language appropriate to the situation.3 L1 and attention-raising The L1 can fulfil a wide range of functions in the L2 classroom. These have been extensively studied by Castellotti and Moore (1997, 1999), Causa, (1996, 1997), Matthey (1992), Moore (1996), Simon (1997), Van Lier (1996), among many others. Such studies analyse the roles and functions of code alternation from cognitive and linguistic as well as interactional perspectives. They show that switches to the native language clearly play an important part in classroom discourse structuration, and in the learning process (Mondada, 1999). One factor among many others determining whether language data may have an impact on the learner has to do with the degree of attention s/he paid to the data at specific time of exposure.4 Many reasons might lead to the data being overlooked or not noticed (among them affective variables), or being beyond comprehension of students, and most of the time the teacher has little means of knowing this. A switch to L1, whether initiated by the teacher or the student, is


Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

likely to arouse the degree of attention paid to discourse content and/or form, and will usually involve feed-back, as well as open a new sequence of negotiation and production in L2. Several questions thus arise: (1) how do learners manage to introduce their L1 into L2-based utterances? (2) how do teachers react to initial utterances of what could be referred to as bilingual sequences (Py, 1992) in the L2 classroom context? (3) how do teachers manage to transform such episodes into a potential learning process? Example 1. SP. 1. 2. 3. T: L: T: comment sappellent (how do you call ) las frambuesas (raspberries) las frambuesas ? les (:) & framboises (raspberries? raspberries)

The short example above is typical of classroom interaction. The teacher interprets the use of L1 as a call for help from the student, and thus provides the missing lexical item in the second language. Nevertheless, the echoing in Spanish on the part of the teacher and her rising tone in French both accentuate and emphasise the new data offered to the learner. This type of code-switching, frequent in classroom discourse, clearly endorses a corrective function. It also shows a double movement: (1) from convergence to the students choice of language, clarifying the fact that they have understood each other at a communicative level, and that the student did indeed answer the question and therefore did his job as a learner; (2) to divergence and shift of emphasis on form, thus adhering again to the prevailing rule of the classroom, which entails the use of the second language.

Switches and Their Treatment in Interaction

The previous example illustrated the kind of discursive rituals code-switches are bound to trigger. The following section pays closer notice to the interactive treatment of switches in context. Similar switches lead to different reactive processes. Some reactions seem to be primarily oriented to the need to fulfil communication purposes. Such exchanges retain a distinctive bilingual quality. Other reactions more clearly show some kind of effort towards a progress in acquisition. The discourse develops in different ways, according to when and how repairs are offered in the course of the exchange. Communication effectiveness In the following example, the teacher (R. or T.) has told a story to the children. He is now showing slides while the children are supposed to retell the story. Example 2. SP. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. T: L: T: L: T: ah. et la deuxime fois o on le voit. cest o ? (ah. and the second time we see him. where is it?) (silence) dis-le. dis-le en espagnol. cest pas grave (say it. say it in Spanish. it doesnt matter) (silence) non elle est timide. on le voit l daccord. quest-ce quil fait ? quest-ce quil est en train de faire ? Manou ?

Code-switching and Learning in the Classroom


20. 21.

L: T:

22. 23. 24. 25.

L: T: L: T:

(no she is shy. we see him here ok. what is he doing? what is he doing?) (XXX) ah non il nest pas en train de.. non ! cest vrai quil regarde . tas raison (ah no he!its true he is looking . youre right) se pone el dedo en la naziz (he puts his finger in his nose) il se fait a ? (he really does that?) oui (yes) faites-le. est-ce que vous vous mettez le doigt dans le nez ? a vous arrive dj ? (try the same thing . do you put your fingers in your nose? did you ever do that?) bien sr il continue. il se met le doigt dans le nez. et vous. est-ce que vous savez pourquoi il fait a ? (of course he does . he puts his finger up his nose . do you know why he is doing that?) euh Manou. tas une ide ? (Manou . do you have any idea?) (X) para comerse los mocos (to eat his bogeys) ah. il a faim alors. cest a? ya pas une autre raison ? seulement pour manger ses crottes de nez? on dit. est-ce quon dit des crottes de nez nous tu le fais toi Manou? oui. Manou-Juan? (ah. he must be hungry then. is that it? is there any other reason? only to eat his bogeys? do we say bogeys? do you do things like that Manou? yes. M-Juan?) lo hago cuando me molesta (I do when it bothers me) ah. a peut le gratter effectivement. quand a gratte on peut les en lever. tiens ben Luis il est en train de le faire dailleurs. hein comme quoi a arrive souvent. (ah. it can itch thats right. when it itches we can take them off. here Luis is doing it right now. so. it shows it can happen often)


() T:

33. 34. 35. 36.

L: T: L: T:

37. 38.

L: T:

The previous excerpt clearly exemplifies a need to communicate that overrules the need for correctness. Confirmation checks (do it), comprehension checks (do you know why he is doing that) and clarification requests (then he is hungry) are all made indirectly. The bilingual quality of the exchange is present throughout the entire sequence. A step by step strategy is adopted by the teacher, with questions asked, and answers sometimes provided. The focus throughout the sequence remains on making sure the young learners understood and are able to reconstruct the story. The children are never scolded for using their first language. They are in fact encouraged to do so as not to break the flow of conversation. Each L1-utterance is treated as part of the overall exchange and as adding


Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

to it. No immediate correction in the L2 is offered, although each L1-utterance will be given a French equivalent at one point in the exchange. Two movements can thus be identified: first, the Spanish utterance is treated on a communicative level only (ie. the teachers fake surprise does he really do that?); then a French equivalent is provided by the teacher (with no collaborative work from the students), along with a demand to do something (show me . put a finger into your nose) and no invitation to repeat. The French utterance given as an equivalent to the Spanish production produced in 22 (he puts his finger into his nose) is produced by the teacher in 32, 10 conversational turns later. Once again, the teacher doesnt ask the children to repeat the sentence in French. He encourages them to carry on with the story, keeping them on course by asking further questions, such as the reasons why people might pick their nose. The discourse progresses in a linear fashion, with L1 contributions to the conversation fitting in with previous contributions in French. The repetitions in French produced by the teacher, although functioning as delayed heterocorrections, are not stressed as such. They do not entail any lateral sequences focused on form and do not seem to be reactivated by the children as part of a new repertoire in the second language. Focalisation on form The next example differs considerably in its structure. Here, the teacher devotes considerable time working on the correctness of French utterances, checking and rechecking that the children can remember. The previous exchange was remarkable for its conversational fluidity, despite resurgent L1 utterances. The next one strikes one because of the chopped up character attached to switches. It develops in clearly defined successive stages, carefully monitored by the teacher. Example 3. SP 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. T: L: T: L: T: L: T: ( ) 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. T: L: T: L: T: L: (after four conversational turns, and a long speech by T) Oui.. quest-ce quil fait l ? (yes..what is he doing here?) comer (eating) il (he is ) mange (eating) il mange son (he is eating his ) son goter (his snack) han. l il a. il a une grande faim hein ? quest-ce quil fait ? (han. here he is. he is very hungry isnt he? what is he doing?) comer (eating) il (he is ) mange (eating) il mange. il mange. il mange son (he is eating. he is eating. he is eating his ) son goter (his snack) ah oui. il mange son goter. il mange son goter. oui ! (yes. he is eating his snack. he is eating his snack. yes!)

Code-switching and Learning in the Classroom




il mange son goter. alors ici . ici. tu fais la mme chose que Marie-Claude. jarrive. (he is eating his snack. so you do the same thing as M-C. Im coming)

49. 50. 51.

( ) (after 20 conversational turns on other topics) T: il lance son ballon.. quest-ce quil fait ? (he throws his ball..what is he doing?) L: il mange son goter (he is eating his snack) T: ah. il mange son goter. je viens Anas attends un peu. bien. quest-ce quil fait le petit garon. Eduardo ? il mange. quest-ce quil mange. le go -ter .. le goter. oui ! (ah. he is eating his snack.Im coming Anas just wait. good. what is the little boy doing.Eduardo? he is eating.what is he eating.hissnack.. his snack.yes!)

The teachers continuous effort to have the children produce a specific complete sentence (he is eating his (teatime) snack) is obvious. In the first turn, she asks the question that should lead to the expected answer. One child answers in Spanish. She doesnt openly reject the proposition, but ignores its validity on a communicative level and chooses instead to deploy a range of elicitation procedures and clues aiming at the production of the expected (correct) answer: she supplies part of the sentence, with an ascending tone indicating the need to expand on it, then repeats the completed sentence with emphatic signs of agreement (yes. he is eating his snack . he is eating his snack . yes). Very similar sequences are staged again twice in the course of the same lesson: four conversational turns later, and then again 20 conversational turns later (and after a rather long soliloquy on the part of the teacher), with children providing bits of information, actively encouraged and heavily coached by the teacher. The word snack (goter in French) appears nine times in this extract. It is repeated three times by the students under the close supervision of the teacher, and echoed six times by the teacher, in response to the auto-corrections she elicited. The two switches produced by students signal important shifts, in the sense that they set off the lexical work on the missing items. The tension towards acquisition (Py, 1991) seems maximal, and the whole sequence is clearly directed towards the appropriation of linguistic data. The two previous extracts were chosen for their exemplification of two extreme types of teachers attitudes towards L1 utterances in L2 classes. They show that the specific use of L1 as a problem-solving strategy that a learner adopts may be successful on the communicative level. It may also lead to potential learning progress in L2, depending on the context of interaction and the teachers decision concerning how the task should be defined and whether a repair should subsequently be initiated or not, and when. Some switches to L1 seem to slow down the progression of discourse because they lead to immediate negotiated repairs. Other switches seem on the contrary to facilitate discourse progression, because of the overtly bilingual nature of the exchange in which they appear. They might ultimately lead to repairs as well. These repairs none-


Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

theless are postponed and are usually not negotiated. Both examples illustrate divergent focus on content and form. They seem to illustrate a similar difficulty in reuniting both levels of attention on content and form, and in giving the students a proper opportunity to rely on their skills to build up communication expertise as well as understanding and proficiency in the foreign language.

Code-switching and Learning

In the next examples, signs of negotiation and resolution of the negotiation show solidarity, ensure comprehension and focus attention on areas where language does not match. They mark a break in the flow of conversation, and a change of focus from content to form. Mainly, they show an increased metalinguistic awareness. Extra work is involved and we could consider it prepares the learner for the possibility of subsequent analysis and learning (Ldi, 1999; Py, 1997). Bifocalisation and metalinguistic awareness In the next example, children are also asked to tell a story. But, although they are allowed to use their first language, each utterance in L1 gives way to an immediate corrective reaction on the part of the teacher. Example 4. AOS 1. 2. 3. T: L1: T: alors Christian vas-y tu commences lhistoire (so Christian go on you start the story) il tait une fois euh un souris une souris qui : va : l dans une pr (once upon a time euh a* mouse a mouse: goes:* iz in a* meadow) dans un pr oui et quest-ce quil regarde un peu dans X et dcris-le un peu / il portait quoi (in a meadow yes and what is he looking at in X and describe him a little/how was he dressed) une : non so come si chia (a: I dont know how to say it) des pan (pan) pantalon (pants) salopette (overalls) oui une salopette des pantalons avec des comment on appelle (yes overalls pants with how do we call) des XXX des bretelles oui (suspenders yes) il avait : des // scarp (he was wearing: //scarp) des souliers oui (shoes yes) souliers rouges (red shoes ) oui (yes)

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

L1: T: L1: L2: T: L: T: L1: T: L1: T:

The tactical use of L1 reveals how the child tries to transform the monolingual interaction in French into a potentially bilingual one : une: non so como si chia. Not only does the child let the teacher know he knows what to answer but not in the chosen language, he chooses to do so by switching directly to the native language. The teacher doesnt react to the choice of language, but acknowledges the need for help by providing part of the missing item in French (des pan/). A

Code-switching and Learning in the Classroom


similar strategy is used by the same child in 9 and 11. He provides answers to the teachers questions, partly in French and partly in Italian. He therefore shows both an effort to accommodate to the teachers language preference : des XXX ; il avait : des// scarp, and an effort to use the possible proximity between the two languages in contact : scarp(e), escarpin, souliers (shoes). Once again, the teacher provides the missing element while he approves of the effort (yes). Finally, the student re-uses the given data (soulier, shoe) in a new linguistic environment (rouge, red). The exchange and the subsequent work on language it entails follows several stages, branded as typical of acquisition potency (Squences potentiellement acquisitionnelles, de Pietro, et al. 1989). Examples such as this one can be observed in both contexts. In the following extract, the switch on the word caletrillo also leads to negotiated meaning. This time however, the recipient of new linguistic data is the French-speaking teacher, and the clarifying metalinguistic work of trying to give a definition is undertaken, in French, by the children. Example 5. SP 15. T: () on range .. vous RAN-GEZ . comme il te reste trs peu de temps . mais il ne reste presque plus de temps . quest-ce que tu fais ? () (lets tidy up..TI-DY UP. there is little time left. there is almost no time left. what are you doing?) un caletrillo (a caletrillo) un caletrillo ? moi je ne comprends pas . quest-ce que cest un caletrillo ? (a caletrillo ? I dont understand. what is a caletrillo ?) pour emmener des choses (to carry things) quelque chose pour emmener des choses.. je ne connaissais pas ce mot-l . ah ! un caletrillo . cest quelque chose avec des roues et on emmne des choses dedans ? cest a ? en franais tu sais le dire Mlanie ? moi non plus . tu ranges tes dessins dans ton classeur alors hein () (something to carry things..I didnt know that word. ah! a caletrillo . its something with wheels and we can carry things in it? is that it? do you know how to say that in French Melanie? neither do I. put your drawings in your file now OK) () (cest quoi a ? ah a y est jai compris. cest les roues l . il y a les roues et l on met les choses dedans pour emmener les choses . EN-FIN jai compris! un CHARIOT . un chariot . daccord . comme a a fonctionne () whats that? ah here we are. I understand. here are the wheels. there are wheels and here this is where we put things we want to carry. AT LAST I understood! a TROLLEY. a trolley.ok. now it works)

16. 17.

L: T:

18. 19.

L: T:


() T:

Definitions, a rather specialised speech genre, much favoured in schools, constitute an example of decontextualised language use. The child offers reliable


Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

central information: the fact that the object they are talking about is used to carry things and has wheels. The ability to perform such an analysis (a very difficult task for young children) in the target language, French, seems to be very much linked to a high determination to preserve communication at all costs and the high level of authenticity of the exchange (the teacher really doesnt know what a caletrillo is). Despite the inability of the teacher to come up immediately with a word, she grasps the general meaning and her repetitions of the explanations offered in French attest their validity from both a linguistic and informative point of view. The double focus on content and form, and the elaborate metalinguistic work of definition provided by the child may well have a double effect on his learning capacities, the brushing up of definition skills in a foreign language, and the intake of new data once the teacher finally provides the word they have been looking for (a trolley). Such examples show the potential for switches to raise linguistic awareness, their possible links with acquisition (Ldi, 1999; Py, 1997), and with conceptualisation procedures (Coste, 1994b). Switches and enriched conceptualisation We previously briefly discussed the pedagogical principles underlying code alternation in the Aosta Valley context. Various forms of bilingual schooling abound. They differ from one another according to different criteria, among which language distribution issues and language allocation in the classroom are ultimately indicative of the diversity of linguistic situations, school systems, and educational needs and goals (Baetens Beardsmore, 1993, 1994; Coste, 1994a). Most programmes are, however, based on language separation, very seldom on concurrent use of two languages.5 In the Valdotan context, on the contrary, the concurrent allocation of the two languages is a key feature of the bilingual methodology. Concurrent language use may provide an effective means through which language and content can become successfully integrated. The careful sequencing of languages in the content areas should participate in enhanced learning and higher conceptual development, alongside linguistic development in both languages.6 On the micro level, it could therefore be hypothesised that the alternate experience in two languages, manifested and magnified through code-switching, could help reinforce, complexify and refine the formation and elaboration of new concepts. Example 6. AOS. 1. L1: (reads) () lhomme de Cro-Magnon vcut dans lge de la pierre taille // palolithique ()(Cro-Magnon men lived during the second period of the Stone Age //paleolitic) oui / alors cest lge // palolithique hein en italien comme on dit a (yes/so this is the Age //paleolitic hein how do we say that in Italian) euh: de la pierre : euh /hm della pie XX della pietra (euh: the stone: euh/hm the stone XX the stone) scheggiata (chipped) scheggiata (chipped)



3. 4. 5.

L1: L2: L1:

Code-switching and Learning in the Classroom




scheggiata oui cest lge en X que pierre taille daccord// (chipped yes the stone Age when X when chipped stones ok//)

In the example above, the switching from one language to the other goes beyond an attempt to translate. It brings attention to semantic differences and adds new information and insight. It acts directly upon and transforms knowledge formation. The demand for a switch to Italian on the teachers part could be interpreted as a common strategy to check comprehension. This cleverly staged code-switch introduces subtle nuances to enrich the meaning of the concept: as Castellotti (2000: 121) points out, the two terms are not exact synonyms in French and Italian. The French adjective taille, like the Italian tagliata, implies a human action. The Italian scheggiata, on the other hand, refers only to the state of the object (chipped or shattered). In this particular case, the double referencing will come particularly handy to differentiate paleolithic and neolithic ages, when human intervention becomes much more important and visible. With two lexical forms in their bilingual repertoires, the learners can activate two images, corresponding to two types of knowledge. These images can be superimposed or not. Each of them adds new insight and focus on particular characteristics and contributes to building a more complete and nuanced vision. A dual repertoire helps the students elaborate knowledge from differing levels of comprehension and information. They can relate new linguistic and conceptual material to what they already know, and recognise its limitations when presented additional or differential meaning in a different language. The next example illustrates, in a different area of the curriculum, similar roles for switches in constructing more meaningful images and adding new components of knowledge. Example 7. AOS 1. 2. 3. 4. puoi farlo italiano (we can speak in Italian) XXX si puo fare anche in italiano (we can speak in Italian) euh : si vous avez des difficults vous pou/vous pouvez expliquer en italien aussi XXX en franais (euh : if its too difficult you can/you can explain in Italian too XXX in French ) 5. LL: XXX 6. T2: vous avez lu les / les documents / a aussi / a aussi cest un document hein (you read the/ the documents/ this one too / this is also a document hein) 7. () (students work and speak in Italian) 8. L: grano (seeds) 9. T1: graine en franais cest il seme en italien / hm seme (seeds in French is il seme in Italian / hm seme) In the previous example, we see how the bilingual potentiality of the conversation is exploited, with a student repeating that Italian is permitted to accomplish the task they have to do in class twice, and the teacher confirming (in French) this possibility. The resulting switches concentrate on the identification of L: L: L: T1:


Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

cross-linguistic conceptual mismatch, and on the elucidation of various meanings of cognate words, such as the Italian grano (grain in French, grain or seed, referring more specifically to the fruit of food plants such as wheat or rice) and il seme (graines / semence in French, referring more specifically to the part in plants that makes reproduction possible). Reformulation across codes, with new information added, also shows the term is a key one in the lesson, and therefore acts as an attention-focusing device. Of course, the same level of preciseness and accuracy could probably be achieved through the consistent use of one language only. Nevertheless, it could be argued that switches are intrinsically bound to draw attention to differences, and that the contrastive use of languages may lead to enhanced language awareness and to revision of prior knowledge: in the two previous examples, both languages interact to develop metalinguistic awareness, abstraction and higher forms of knowledge, both more complex and more flexible. Code-switches reorganise states of conceptual development to integrate new data. They put together semantic features of the concerned domain to incorporate aspects that were not included in one language or the other. Therefore, switches can be considered as acting directly on the elaboration of concepts, especially when no semantically congruent equivalents are available. Switches highlight different stages in the unfolding of meaning, each switch (each stage) constituting a qualitatively different (superior) form of knowledge construction. Switches also contain their own feed-back mechanism, in the sense that they shed light on the functioning of the L1 as well as on that of the L2. They indicate potential learning, the ability to integrate and differentiate, and to grow in complexity as well as flexibility. Code-switches could therefore be considered as part of an adaptation process.

Teaching a second language, whether in a monolingual or bilingual setting, necessarily raises questions of methodology, and among these quickly comes to surface language distribution issues and the role of L1 in second-language acquisition. This contribution has focused on code-switches and the exploration of their possible benefits for the learning process. The availability of more than one language is part of a total communicative resource. As a result, different languages may be used, just as differing modalities might be used in monolingual contexts (Merritt, 1992: 118). Switches display communicative patterns in which all the communicative resources of a bilingual repertoire are available and profitable. Similar switches trigger divergent interactive treatments. A code-switch can help bridge the gap in the discourse. It can set off negotiated lateral sequences about content and/or form. It can generate interactional changes that may potentially entail acquisitional dimensions. In situations when the focus is not only on the development of linguistic skills but also on the transmission of subject contents, switches can add significantly to the enrichment of new concepts and become an active part in the learning experience. Such switches are qualitatively different from the other types mentioned in their ability to carry out transformations upon objects of knowledge.

Code-switching and Learning in the Classroom


Code-switches may well instantiate strategies for teaching concepts across linguistic and cultural boundaries. Correspondence Any correspondence should be directed to Danile Moore, Ecole Normale Suprieure, Lettres et Sciences Humaines, 15 Parvis Ren Descartes, 69366 Lyon Cedex 07, France ( Notes
1. The data in Spain was collected as part of a research project under the responsibility of Michle Garabdian, E.N.S de Fontenay/ Saint-Cloud (EA 2534), and involved about 12 hours of video recording of classes. 2. The data in the Aosta Valley was collected by Marisa Cavalli, IRRSAE, Aoste and transcribed by Vronique Castellotti, University of Tours (EA2534). It consists of about 9 hours of audio recording. 3. Garabdian and Lerasle (1997) describe the tension between the will to communicate and the necessity of correctness as a double constraint that teachers and learners alike need to handle in interaction. 4. For Gass (1997: 8), attention serves as a mechanism to help sort out L2 data: One way in which the input becomes more manageable is by the learner focusing attention on a limited and hence controlled amount of data at a given point in time. By limiting the data to which one attends, learners can create a set of data that allows them to move from input to output () 5. Innovative models of teaching concurrently in two languages are nevertheless described in Jacobson and Faltis, 1990. Despite a highly structured approach to code-switching as a teaching-tool, their model differs considerably from the one in the Aosta Valley on several grounds: the switching is only teacher initiated, and no intra-sentential switching is permitted. The perspective is also primarily transitional: the two languages are sequenced so that minority students have enough time to develop high levels of native language proficiency before moving entirely to an English-only classroom environment. 6. Coste and Pasquier (1992) for example, argue that the alternate presentation of information in French and Italian about, lets say, a tadpole, might lead young children to elaborate more intricate knowledge than they would if presented information in one language only: a baby frog is called girino in Italian (the word carrying implicit reference to movement), and ttard in French (where the lexical item seems to be more concerned with the shape of the animal: tte/head). A young child presented for the first time with information on the animal in both languages might therefore construct what we could refer to as a hyper-concept of an animal characterised both by a funny head-like shape and its ability to move quickly in water.

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