Chapter 7. Code Alternation in English as a Second Language Classroom: A Communication and Learning Strategy

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Oladotun Opeoluwa Olagbaju¹, PhD, Babalola Racheal Olubunmi² and Olaniyi Oluwaseun Oladeji³
¹School of Arts and Sciences, University of The Gambia, Brikama, The Gambia
²Department of English Language, Federal College of Education (Special), Oyo, Oyo State, Nigeria
³Clinton School of Public Service, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Part of the book: Bilingualism and its Benefits

Abstract

Bilingualism remains a linguistic reality among Nigerians because the nation is linguistically fragmented with over 500 languages. Apart from the numerous indigenous languages, English serves as the lingua franca. The different languages in Nigeria have been assigned specific roles in government, legislation, and education. The English language is used as the medium of instruction from the fourth year of primary education while the language of the immediate environment assumes the role of a school subject. The implication of two languages coexisting within the classroom is that code alternation becomes a linguistic reality in a typical Nigerian classroom. It is important to determine the use of code alternation as a communication and learning strategy to maximize the students’ level of participation during classroom interaction. The paper examined code-switching and code-mixing in lesson delivery and classroom interaction, the importance of code alternation in the English language classroom and the need to code-switch during the teaching and learning of English in ESL settings. Four research questions were raised and 230 students in upper basic school participated in the survey. Data were analyzed using simple frequency and mean. Results showed that code alternation can improve students’ achievement, attitude and interest in learning. ESL students preferred the use of code alternation in instructional delivery to the complete use of the English language. Based on the findings, it was recommended that the Nigerian language education policy should be reviewed in a way that teachers are allowed to alternate codes during the teaching and learning process, irrespective of the students’ level and class.

Keywords: bilingualism, code alternation, educational policy, mother tongue, classroom interaction


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