Code-switching in Classroom Communication: How is It Perceived and What are the Impacts?

Mia Perlina, Purwanti Taman


Investigating code-switching in a classroom setting has got paid attention from the parts of the world (see e.g. Edstrom (2006) in the United States; Bunyi (1998) in Kenya; Canagarajah (1995) in Sri Lanka; Lin (1996) in Hong Kong; Liu et al. (2004) in Korea; Rubdy (2007) in Singapore; and Ariffin and Husin (2011) in Malaysia. It was even stated that switching from one language to another becomes a strategy of communication used by teachers in order to increase students’ inclusion and understanding in the learning process (Macaro, 2005; Arthur & Martin, 2006). The recent paper is then carried out to evaluate students’ attitudes towards code-switching in classroom communication. Involving 302 students of English Department at Universitas Pamulang, this study finds out how students perceive code-switching in classrooms, whether this switching practice affects students’ understanding about the courses, especially in linguistics and literature courses, and describe whether there is a correlation between the students’ linguistic competence and the code-switching practices. The data revealed that switching practices in classroom communication are common phenomena performed by lecturers, but these practices are perceived positively by most participants. Furthermore, the switching practices were considered advantageous since they are believed to provide some benefits, among others are to facilitate students’ understanding, to create a good atmosphere during the lectures, and to encourage students’ participation. In terms of the correlation between linguistic competence and code-switching practices, the data indicated that most participants admitted that code-switching utilized by lecturers was not affected by the lecturers’ linguistic competence in English, while the lecturers perceived that their switching practices were due to their consideration of students’ linguistic competence in English and/or that of the course or subject learning objectives. To sum up, there seemed no harm to practice code-switching in the classroom instruction and the necessity of acquiring knowledge is to be paid more attention as it was implied by the participants’ responses.


Attitudes; Perceptions; code-switching; classroom communication; language use

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