Code-switching in the English Second Language classroom: a case study of four rural high school teachers in uMbumbulu, KwaZulu-Natal.
Shinga, Sibongile Elizabeth.
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Due to the multicultural setting of South Africa, eleven languages, which include English, Afrikaans and nine indigenous languages including Xhosa, Zulu, Swati and Ndebele, Southern and Northern Sotho, Tswana, Venda and Tsonga, have been awarded equal status as official languages. Despite the continued support for English as the prestigious language of wealth and success from Black parents, English Second Language (ESL) learners are often found to struggle in developing the expected competency in the language both inside and outside the classroom. The Department of Education expects teachers to be skilled in assisting learners who experience a barrier to learning and understanding English in the ESL classroom. This study argues that teacher’s Code Switching (CS) provides solace for learners who struggle to understand what is taught in class. Despite the feeling of justification for CS use in ESL classrooms, teachers feel they are not only breaching the official language policy but, also, what is presented to them as best classroom practice. In this thesis, I attempt to show the necessity and value of CS in such circumstances. Although a large body of research has been done on ESL classroom codeswitching, there is a shortage of such studies in Black rural high schools. This study aimed to explore where, when and how instances of teacher CS occur in four rural high school ESL classrooms, the attitudes teachers have towards it, as well as, their experiences of using it in the classroom. Through utilizing three research instruments, namely, concepts maps, open-ended questionnaires and open-ended audio-recorded telephone interviews, data was collected over a period of six months. Findings in this study indicate that CS is still widely used by ESL teachers and considered successful in clarifying difficult concepts in Literature and Comprehension. Learners were found to enjoy lessons and were actively involved throughout the activities that were performed in class. On the other hand, teachers expressed feelings of resentment towards CS use in ESL classrooms maintaining that it makes learners lazy to independently learn the new vocabulary necessary to develop their competency in English language.