Code-switching and communicative competence in the language classroom
Code switching (CS) is a normal practice among bilingual and multilingual speakers both in the community at large and at schools despite it being mostly prohibited in most South African classrooms. Even though educators express the banes of CS or even deny its use in the classroom, the study on which this paper draws demonstrates that both teachers and learners engage in CS behaviour in classroom interaction. The paper examines language teaching sessions of Grade 8 and 9 learners in multilingual classrooms in three semi-urban schools in KwaZulu Natal. It demonstrates that in language classrooms, within the framework of OBE, CS involving learners’ home and additional languages can be used as a teaching and learning strategy in accomplishing communicative competence, especially grammatical, sociolinguistic and strategic competences, as described by Canale and Swain (1980). The paper concludes by exploring the implications of ‘strategic’ CS for second or additional language pedagogy, and suggests the need for education role-players to engage in continued consciousness raising as CS is a reality in and outside the classroom.
Key words: code-switching, communicative competence, home language, additional language, Outcomes Based Education