An investigation of code-switching in English classes at the University of Danang- College of Language Studies
Bilingual speakers usually tend to switch some words or phrases from one language to another during conversation, which is called “code-switching”. According to Heather Coffey, code-switching is the practice of moving between variations of languages in different contexts. Code-switching is also intentionally or unintentionally practiced frequently in class.
This research will focus on code-switching practice in class of both teachers and students in Danang University- College of Language Studies, how it is performed, what effects it might create as well as some suggestions for this problem. Techniques for this research such as observations, interview and taking of field notes are used as means of data collection.
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Problem statement
English ranks second in top 10 Most Spoken Languages in the World. In Vietnam, learning English now is becoming more popular than ever before. For those who know English, they tend to mix the two languages, i.e. English and Vietnamese, in conversation. Code-switching, the practice of moving back and forth between two languages or between two dialects or registers of the same language, therefore is inevitable and sometimes unconscious, especially when they are having English classes.
For example, in an English class at Danang University- College of Language Studies, a teacher says: “Các em làm bài writing rồi submit cho cô qua mail.”, and students ask: “Deadline là khi nào vậy cô?” Those are just two in tons of code-switching that can be found in English classes. The frequency of finding code-switching practice inside classrooms is very high and it is worth paying attention to work on. That is the reason why I would like to take on this problem to investigate. 1.2 Research rationale
Nowadays, English is an obligatory subject at school, a means of international communication, and a second language in our society. Our college, the College of Language Studies, offers official, integrated and advanced language training, of which the strength is English. Moreover, students who study English are better prepared and have larger vocabulary since they are taught English at high schools. Finally, it is not only students but also the teachers that code-switch in class for many reasons.
Therefore, the finding of code-switching between English and Vietnamese is much higher than in other languages. By carrying out this study, I hope that it will help the students and the teachers as well be aware of code-switching in class and through some general suggestions for this issue, they can find specific solutions to avoid the drawbacks and make code-switching an effective tool for learning and teaching English. 1.3 Research scope
Code-switching is a broad topic since it occurs in many aspects of our lives. However, in this research, I only focus on code-switching in English classes performed by teachers and students of Danang University- College of Language Studies- Department of English because I think it is more practical and feasible. Therefore, the process of interviewing and observation will take place in some English classes and some notes are also taken from the Internet. All the participants taking part in this study are required to use Vietnamese as their mother tongue, and English as their second language.
1.4 Aims and objectives
The study explores the use of code-switching in English classes at the College of Language Studies. Specific objectives are set as follows: Examine the frequency of code-switching found in these classes Investigate the fluency and accuracy of the participants who apply code-switching in their classes Investigate the purposes and reasons for the practice of code-switching in classes Present an array of the influences of this practice
1.5 Research question
– What is likely to be the frequency of the practice of code-switching in English classes? – What are the reasons and purposes for code-switching in English classes? – What are the effects that code-switching might create and what can be done to make it a useful tool for teaching and learning English?
Firstly, it is hypothesized that the frequency of code-switching among bilinguals is very high because of a number of reasons. It may occur because there are no equivalent words, to convey intimacy, to avoid being overheard or understood, to add emphasis and some other reasons. Such reasons were anticipated in the findings of Nguyen Ha Quyen (2011). In addition, Walid M Rihane (n.d) also provided five reasons for code-switching, which are solidarity, social status, topic, affection and persuasion.
Secondly, there is a tendency of practicing code-switching in class more, especially amongst students since they are encouraged to use English in classes; their vocabulary and grammar, however, is sometimes not enough to express their feelings or ideas. This may cause some effects such as words and phrases are applied in the wrong way, some students might transcribe some words to the accents and dialects that they are familiar with and so on.
Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1. Previous studies
2.1.1 Code-switching in conversation
Code-switching is one of the major issues in bilingual research. According to Milroy and Muysken (1995), the switches occur in different ways, sometimes the switching occurs between the turns of speakers in a conversation, sometimes between utterances within a single turn and sometimes even with in a single utterance. Nguyen Ha Quyen (2011), also
investigated code-switching in conversation of Vietnamese teenagers, she pointed out that “to some people, Code-switching has become a habit and most time occurs subconsciously when speaking with people at the same age” and that “code-switching should be viewed from the perspective of providing a linguistic advantage rather than an obstruction to communication.”
2.1.2. Why do people code-switch?
Code-switching often happens with bilinguals and there are many reasons for this. Walid M Rihane (n.d) argued that code-switching is motivated by five main factors, which are solidarity, social status, topic, affection and persuasion. Some research has also found that people code-switch to emphasize or clarify a particular point, to reinforce a request, to substitute a word or to express a concept that does not have a direct equivalent in other language. Specifically, Nguyen Ha Quyen (2011), provided some factors that influence code-switching, such as: – No equivalent words in Vietnamese.
2.1.3 Code-switching in the classroom
Currently, there has been several research on this field. Ehsan Rezvani (2011), in the research “Code-switching in Iranian Elementary EFL Classrooms: An Exploratory Investigation” proved that “code-switching is a readily available and frequently applied strategy for foreign language teachers in classroom interaction and classroom management”, “although the teacher enjoyed high English proficiency levels, they did not maximize the target language (i.e. English) in their classroom interactions”. In addition, Bulelwa Ndabeni (2002) argued in her research “ An investigation of Code Switching in different learning areas in a grade seven class” that “code switching has an important role to play in the school classroom, but more longitudinal studies are needed on the implications of code-switching”.
She noted that “we must also be careful of the other negative side of classroom code switching”; “teachers should be aware of the importance of code switching in the classroom, but they should not use it as an avoidance strategy”. In my research, therefore, I will present some general suggestions to make code switching more useful in English classes. Chapter 3: Methodology and procedures
3.1 Research method
I propose a qualitative study using questionnaires, observation and in-depth interview methods. Specifically, I would like to use questionnaires to collect the data. One of the major advantages of this method is that it provides possible anonymity and avoids embarrassment on the part of the respondents. It can be easy to gather a large amount of information to analyze. However, using questionnaires also brings some drawbacks. Therefore, I would also choose natural observation, which involves observing behavior as it takes place in the environment. In this case, the environment is inside the classroom of English classes. Observation is a useful strategy.
For Saurab, “It is the primary mode of acquiring knowledge about the environment”. This method will help the researcher avoid the wide range of problems that is usually found if using questionnaires. For example, when having questionnaires delivered to the respondents, the researcher might not always get accurate or complete answer, or respondents may answer in ways that correspond to what is socially desirable. In addition, in-depth interview is used as well. This is a powerful data collection method. The biggest advantage of this method is that there is time for the respondent to further develop and give reasons for his or her point of view- without being influenced by the opinion of other respondents.
3.2 Description of population and sample
The participants of the study are teachers and students of The University of Danang- College of Language Studies- Department of English. Those participants, especially students, come from different cities and provinces. The gap of facilities needed to learn English, therefore, may exist amongst the students. Furthermore, the participants are required to use Vietnamese as their mother tongue, and English as their second language.
The chosen type of sample is simple random sample, i.e. each unit in the population has an equal chance of being selected. According to Natalie Andrew, “freedom of human bias and classification error remains one of the biggest advantages simple random sampling offer” and “if done right, simple random sampling results in a sample highly representative of the population of interest.”
3.3 Data Collection
Information will be collected by observing randomly some English classes with Vietnamese teachers. These classes could be for first year or even final year students, since even first year students study integrated English. The researcher will record the date or take some notes. Furthermore, as mentioned above, questionnaire will be used as one of the method to collect the information. The questionnaires will include both closed and open questions and they will be delivered to random classes in the college. In addition, some interviews are also conducted to find out the ways and the reasons for code-switching. The interviewer will ask some closed and open questions and then probe for elaboration. In this way, data will be collected by taking notes.
3.4 Instrument for data analysis
There will be some instrument needed for data analysis. For interview, it is needed to have a computer and a recorder apart from notes. The computer is to type and edit questions and answers and to save the information after the interview. It is used to design the questionnaires as well. It is also necessary to have a simple calculator to figure out the frequency of the practice of code-switching through its occurrences. In some cases, Microsoft Excel is used as a tool to help the researcher analyze faster and more accurately.
3.5 Data analysis and expected findings
Data collected will be dissected by logical and statistical techniques to correspond to the followings: the frequency of using code-switching in English classes of both teachers and students, the purposes and the ways of practicing code-switching. The researcher will count the occurrence of code-switching in the data collected, then identify the frequency. Information from the interview and questionnaires will be analyzed mainly to get the reasons and manners of performing code-switching in classes. Finally, the researcher makes a report to present the findings.