In 1977, Carol Myers-Scotton and William Ury identified code-switching as the “use of two or more linguistic varieties in the same conversation or interaction". It is used by many biligunal speakersfor many purposes, not only a strategy to help when expressions in the second language are lacking. In the classroom it is very common the use of code-switching because it provides middle groundbetween the teacher and the student. Also, it gives the student the opportunity to relate and process the new language he is acquiring.
I am currently assisting a preschool teacher and in the process ofmy students learning a new language we used code-switching constantly. Why do we choose code-switching over repetition? Because they have the opportunity to familiarize and to digest the words realmeaning but also because when they are two and three years old you have to be careful in not making the new language one and the same. Right now I code-switched in my mind to process that sentence andto make sure it was what I really wanted to say.
Baker(1993) provides a list of ten purposes for code switching:
1. To emphasize a point
2. Because the word is unknown in one of the languages
3.For ease and efficiency of expression
4. As a repetition to clarify
5. To express groud identity and status or to be accepted by a group
6. To quote someone
7. To interject in a conversation
8. Toexclude someone
9. To cross social ethnic boundaries
10. To ease tension in conversation
Greene and Walker recommend not taking for granted that students and teachers set clear expectations fornavigating between English and the Second Language and suggest that teachers take engage in the following practices:
• Make certain teacher goals are communicated in a clear manner and that thestudents understand those goals.
• Explain how and when certain language usage is or is not appropriate.
• Make sure students understand how certain contexts require code-switching.
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