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ULFA RAHMI

Code-Switching

Clearly, code–switching is highly required in the teaching and learning environment


particularly in a school which declares itself to use English as the language of
teaching and learning (LOLT) yet students are not proficient enough in English. It acts
as scaffolding to support EFL students where at one point when the students are
proficient enough in the target language, it is being reduced or not going to be
applied anymore. Code-switching is a linguistic term that refers to an alternation of
words or phrases between two or more languages among people who share the
same language (Bista, 2010). Generally, code-switching take places when the
students are incompetent in the target language, in this case is English. Furthermore,
its purpose is mainly to achieve two things, namely ‘filling a linguistic/conceptual
gap and other communicative purposes’ (Gysel 1992, cited in Duran, 1994).

Swaziland, Rollnick and Rurherford (1996, cited in Setati, Adler, Reed & Bapoo, 2002)
in their research of the science classroom, found that learners would be more
effective in exploring their idea if they use their main language. They argue that with
the absent of code-switching, learners’ alternative thinking would remain
unexposed. In addition, there is a possibility of misconception arising among the
learners since they do not understand the content discourse.

In a classroom, code-switching occurs in the discourse of both teachers and


learners. Teacher code-switching happens when the teachers use the learner’s first
language as an encouragement to motivate students’ cognitive development. As
the teachers realize that their students are confusing and uncomfortable in using the
foreign language, teachers need to do code-switching to build students’
confidence and invite participation in the lesson (Alenezi, 2010). Setati (1998, cited in
Lim & Presmeg, 2010) mentioned that there are three types of code-switching that
the teachers could have done, namely, reformulation, content of activity and
translation.

Student code-switching has a function for equivalence, floor-holding, reiteration and


conflict control. Equivalence is functioned as a students’ defensive mechanism that
gives them a chance to continue communication without any gaps resulting from
second language incompetence. The second function is floor holding, which
happens when students cannot recall a word in the target language thus they use
their mother tongue to continue to communicate. The next function is reiteration,
which is used when a student comprehends the content. And the last is conflict
control. It has a function to avoid misunderstanding (Alenezi, 2010).

However, too much code-switching might not benefit the learners. As we keep in
mind that using English as the medium of teaching and learning has a purpose to be
proficient in English, it could hinder that goal. Teachers also have a dilemma of using
code-switching. On the one hand, teachers need to make sure that their students
understand the content and could communicate actively. On the other hand, it is
their duty to make their students fluent in English (Setati & Adler, 2000).

In the Aceh context where English is a foreign language and a third language after
Acehnese and Indonesian language, the use of code-switching is highly crucial.
Students who are incompetent in English are still a majority, thus they need a lot of
support in creating a convenient environment. By having this comfort environment,
student will be motivated and able to understand the subject matter consistently
with learning language slowly but sure. In South Africa, the use of code-switching in
the rural area is least compared to urban area (Setati & Adler, 2000). However, in
Aceh the situation is vice versa. It happens because in some rural areas, students still
struggle with Indonesian language to understand the lesson. Using English will worsen
the condition. Moreover, the national examination which puts far more pressure on
the teachers puts them a lot of responsibility on students’ performance in subject
matter. Teachers have to make sure that students understand the lesson. Hence,
using code-switching is the answer to improve students’ performance both in
content and language.

To sum up, having code-switching in the classroom can be seen as a resource. It


gives students an opportunity to understand and comprehend the lesson deeply. It
also could link students understanding in their first language to the second
language. Moreover, the clarity of a concept can be reach as they understand
what the meaning is. However, to maximize the linguistic competencies, code-
switching should not be over used. With the proper usage, it supports the dual focus
of learning objectives –language and content.
Reference
Alenezi, A., (2010). The Effect of code switching on students’ learning experience in
the collage of health science: An exploratory study. Annual review of
Education, Communication and Language Sciences. Vol 7, 1-22. Retrieved
December 15, 2010, from
http://research.ncl.ac.uk/ARECLS/vol7_documents/alenezi_vol7.pdf

Bista, K. (2010). Factor of code switching among bilingual English student in the
university classroom: A survey. English for Specific Purposes World, Vol 9, issues
29, 1-19. Retrieved December 15, 2010, from www.esp-
world.info/Articles_29/Factors.pdf

Duran, L., (1994). Toward a better understanding of code switching and


interlanguage in bilinguality: Implication for bilingual instruction. The Journal
of Educational Issues of Language Minority Students, vol 14, 69-88. Retrieved
December 15, 2010, from
http://www.esp.sube.com/uploads/gz/xw/gzxwS75-
c_2VVpmC_Gzr3g/Toward_a_better_understanding_of_code_switching.pdf

Lim, C. S., & Presmeg, N. (2010, 13th August). Teaching mathematics in two
languages: A teaching dilemma of Malaysian Chinese primary school.
International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, Online First.
Retrieved September 28, 2010, from SpringerLink database.

Setati, M., & Adler, J. (2000). Betweeen languages and discourse: Language
practices in primary multilingual mathematics classrooms in South Africa.
Educational Studies in Mathematics, 43, 243-269. Retrieved September 28,
2010, from http://www.mamokgethi.com/pdf/19pub.pdf

Setati, M., Adler, J., Reed, Y., & Bapoo, A. (2002). Incomplete journeys: code-
switching and other language practices in mathematics, science and English
language classrooms in South Africa. Language and Education, Vol 16 (2),
128-149. Retrieved December 15, 2010, from
www.mamokgethi.com/pdf/17pub.pdf