The functions of classroom code-switching in the Siyanda District of the Northern Cape

  • Dawid Uys
  • Ondene van Dulm

Abstract

This paper reports on the findings of a study conducted in four secondary schools in the Siyanda District of the Northern Cape province of South Africa, with the  aim of identifying the functions of code-switching in classroom interactions. Code-switching in these classrooms involves English, Afrikaans, Setswana, and isiXhosa, and goes against official school language policy in most cases. Instances of code-switching are categorised according to Myers-Scotton’s (1993, 1998) markedness model, and the functions of the switches are identified. Code-switching is found to fulfil both academic and social functions. Specifically, code-switching is used (i) in explaining and clarifying subject  content; (ii) in assisting learners in understanding and interpreting material; (iii) as a tool of teaching in confirming understanding and encouraging participation; (iv) in classroom management, such as maintaining learners’ attention and reprimanding disruptive behaviour; and (v) for social functions, such as humour and as a marker of bilingual identity. The paper concludes that code-switching may be usefully employed as a classroom strategy.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2011, 29(1): 67–76

Author Biographies

Dawid Uys
Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
Ondene van Dulm
Department of General Linguistics, Stellenbosch University, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa
Section
Articles

Journal Identifiers


eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614