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The pedagogic relevance of codeswitching in the classroom: Insights from Ewe-English codeswitching in Ghana

E Yevudey


Codeswitching as a code choice in the classroom has been a debatable issue among scholars interested in language of education, especially in Africa. Some studies promote the exclusive use of the L2 ‘target language’ in the classroom, while other studies recommend a bilingual mode of communication such as codeswitching. Against this backdrop, this research explores the pedagogic functions of codeswitching patterns in both Ewe (L1) and English (L2) primary school lessons. The current language policy of education in Ghana, under which the classrooms being observed operate, is a bilingual literacy programme, NALAP, which stipulates that that the mother tongue of the pupils should be used as a medium of instruction while English is introduced as a second language with a transition to English medium of instruction from grade 4 onwards. The data for the research are recordings of classroom discourse, responses to questionnaire surveys and interviews conducted in the Volta Region of Ghana. This paper presents both a qualitative analysis of the data, which reveals that teachers and pupils use intersentential and intrasentential codeswitching to perform various functions in their classroom interactions, and a quantitative analysis of the data, which shows that teachers have predominantly positive attitudes towards codeswitching. Based on these results, it is argued that codeswitching between Ewe and English within the lessons enabled students to understand concepts in both languages and to participate actively during lessons