Code-switching in the foreign language classroom

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/HLK, Ämnesforskning

Abstract: It is a frequently observed phenomenon that language learners often turn to their native language in the foreign language classroom, i.e. they code-switch, but why is it so? In order to investigate this, this study had two aims; the first aim was about trying to see if the frequency of code-switching differed depending on the questions’ levels of difficulty. This study was conducted on three different upper-secondary schools and involved 24 pupils. The pupils’ age varied from 16 to 19. The hypotheses were that pupils code-switch less when answering basic level questions and more when answering advanced level questions. Small groups were observed and they read a text and answered eight questions. The results showed that the pupils did code-switch more on the advanced level questions and less on the basic level questions. They code-switched 15 times on the basic level-questions and 21 times on the advanced level-questions. However, this is not a big difference since there were only six instances that differed between them. The second aim was about trying to see if one could categorize code-switching. It was based on Sert’s (2005) three categories; Equivalence, Reiteration and Floor-holding and four other categories invented by the researcher of this study; Student-student code-switching, Student-researcher code-switching, Comfort code-switching and Sorry code-switching, thus, seven categories in total. The results showed that the pupils did code-switch differently and that Sert’s categories did exist, but they were not enough that is why the researcher added the four other categories.

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