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Code Switching in EFL Classroom



Submitted to fulfill the asssignment of Bilingualism Subject


Code Switching in EFL Classroom

1. Introduction

Code-switching is a common phenomenon especially in bilingual or multilingual

communities. Code-switching alludes to the interchanging of two languages together while

speaking (Bloomberg, 2004). Classroom code switching is a common scenario in many

multilingual and multicultural classes. Classroom code switching is a fact which cannot be

ignored in any way especially in a country where English is taught as a foreign language.

2. Code-Switching

There are some experts who define code-switching to provide clarity needed to

understand about its concept. Such as Dell H. Hymess (1875) define code- switching has

become a common term for alternate use of two or more language, or varieties of language, or

even speech style. CS is defined as the alternation of two languages within a single discourse,

sentence, or constituent (Jamshidi & Navehebrahim, 2013). It can occur when a speaker starts

his conversation in a language, then changes it to another language in the middle of his speech.

Code switching can be defined as the use of more than one language, variety, or style by

a speaker within an utterance or discourse, or between different interlocutors or situations

(Romaine, 1992:110). Trask and Stockwell (2007) define code switching as changing back and

forth between two language varieties especially in a single conversation. Gumperz (1982: 59)

defined code switching as ‘the juxtaposition within the same speech exchange of passages of

speech belonging to two different grammatical systems or subsystems’ (as cited on Stockwell,


3. Code Switching in the Classroom

Code switching is a debatable issue in EFL classroom discourse. Alteration between two

languages in the same discourse is a common phenomenon in the present language

classrooms where English is taught as foreign language. Many researchers have argued that
code-switching can be an important element in contributing English language teaching and

learning process.

Skiba (1997) sees codeswitching as an opportunity for language development as it allows

the effective transfer of information from the senders to the receivers. Tien and Liu (2006)

conducted a study which shows that low proficiency students considered code-switching in

their EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classes as beneficial towards gaining better

comprehension, especially when providing equivalent comprehension, as well as giving

classroom procedures. Bensen (2013) also suggests that code-switching should not be

considered as a sign of defect when it is used by teachers within the classroom. It is argued by

the authors that code-switching is a careful strategy employed by the teachers as well as the

students while teaching/learning a second or foreign language.

4. Types and Factors of Code-switching

Researcher has identified types of code switching, and they found two main types of code

switching, namely inter-sentential code switching and intra-sentential code switching. Some

researchers identify tag switching as the third type of switching, separated from inter-sentential


4.1. Inter-setential Code Switching

Hughes et al., (2006) stated that intersentential is inserting an entire phrase from

the secondary language into a conversation using the other language. According to

Romaine (1995), inter-sentential switching could be considered as requiring greater

fluency in both languages than tag-switching since major portions of the utterance must

conform to the rules of both languages. A speaker may finish his first sentence in one

language, and start to talk in other language in his subsequent thought. For example,

‘Jadi aku dari kecil tinggalnya di Jakarta. Then I moved to LA when i was 16.’
4.2. Intra-setential Code Switching

According to Bokamba (1988) intrasentential code-switching coincides with

codemixing. Intersentential code-switching happens whereas people switching the

language, Indonesian and English, between sentences or two clauses. Appel and

Muysken (1987) stated that intrasentential code-switching is the alternation in a single

discourse between two languages, where the switching occurs within a sentence. As

stated by Christopher Barenberg in Stockwell (2007: 48), this switching is requiring the

greatest degree of mutual bilingual proficiency which might not have existed in this

temporary speech community. For example, ‘Okay give me a week, aku akan carikan


4.3. Tag-switching

Tag-switching is a level which involves a situation in which a bilingual attaches

a tag from one language to an utterance in another language such as “Darn!”, “Hey!”,

“Well!”, “Look!”, etc. According to Romaine (1995: 122), Tag switching involves the

insertion of a tag in one language into an utterance which is otherwise entirely in the

other language, e.g. you know, I mean, etc., to take some English examples. For example,

‘Well, kalau memang maunya begitu, ya apa boleh buat.’

5. The Functions of Code Switching

Six functions of code switching by Appel and Muysken (2005):

5.1. The referential function: by referring to extra-linguistic reality information is transferred.

This function only works if there are any knowledge of a language implies command to

this function. This type of function is the most bilingual speakers use when do code

switching. For example, when someone is asked why (s)he does code switch, (s)he tends

to say if (s)he does not know the word for it in the other language, or (s)he thinks the
language they code switch have more meaning or information for doing conversation

about a given subject.

5.2. The directive and imegratire function: by using standard greetings, conventional modes

of address, imperatives, exclamations, and questions contacts are made with ethers and

enough of an interactive structure is created to ensure cooperation. This function of

switching is often involves the speaker and the hearer directly. The example of directive

function is when someone is attempted to do something by other people directly, and the

example of imegrative function; some parents usually speak a foreign language when

they do not want their children to understand what is being said. Or if they do this too

often, their children might understand it for sure as their second language as well, or make

up a new language of their own to exclude their parents.

5.3. The expressive function: by making one’s feelings known one can present oneself to

others as a unique individual. This type of function is used for the speakers that want to

emphasize a mixed identity through the use of two languages in the same discourse. This

function is rarely present in code switching communities.

5.4. The phatic function: in order to create a channel of communication and to keep the

channel open speakers make use of conventionalized openings, closings, and ways to

signal turn taking, and if necessary, also of language forms that identify the in-group

within which interaction is taking place. This function is just same as metaphorical


5.5. The metalinguistic function: by using language the speaker’s attitude towards and

awareness of language use and linguistic norms are made known. This type of function

come in its function when it is used to comment directly or indirectly on the languages

involved. Many examples of this function can be found in the public domain such as

presenter, circus directors, market sales people, etc.

5.6. The poetic function: by means of jokes, puns and other word play, and conscious style

and register shifts language is played with, so that use of language becomes a goal and

source of joy in itself.

6. Conclusion

The use of code-switching definitely influences language use among bilinguals who

speak the same languages, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Moore (2002) sees code-

switching as an accommodation strategy that students use to satisfy their main needs. The

teacher uses code switching to help the students understanding the material and the instructions

well. On the other hand, when the students have less capability and understanding in mastering

English, the teacher also uses code switching in classroom interactions. Code switching may

be used by the teacher to develop student’s skill to catch what the teacher said.


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