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


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


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


Afolayan, A. (1980). Mother-tongue in primary school: the Ife six-year project, Nigeria.
Educafrica: Bulletin of the Unesco Regional Office for Education in Africa, Issue 6: 50-65.
Ajulo, A. (2008). Language in Society. Akure: Stebak Books and Publishers.
Alabi, T. A. (2007). Language Contact: The Nigerian experience with English. In O.
Obafemi, G. A. Ajadi and V. A. Alabi (Eds.) Critical Perspectives on English
Language and Literature. Ilorin: Department of English, University of Ilorin. Pp. 78-83.
Appel, R. & Muysken, P. (1987). Language Contact and bilingualism. London: Edward Arnold.
Ayemomi, M. O. (2006). Code-switching and Code-mixing, styles of language use in
childhood in Yoruba speech community, Nordic Journal of African Studies. Ile ife,
Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. 15(2) 90-99.
Bokamba, A. C. (2009). Tagaloge-English code-switching in English Language classes:
Frequency and forms. TESOL Journal, 1: 23-45.
Clegg, J. and Plasma A. (2012). Teaching and Learning in Two Languages in African
Classroom”. Comparative Education, 47(1) 60-69.
De-klerk, M. (2006) code-switching as a communicative strategy: A case study of Korean English bilinguals.
Bilingual Research Journal, 30(2), 293-307.
Fafunwa, A. B., Macauley, J. I. and Sokoya, J. A. F. (1989). Education in mother tongue:
the Ife primary education research project (1970-1978). Ibadan: University Press
Limited. ISBN: 978-249133-0.
Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004). National Policy on Education (4th Edition). NERDC
Press, Yaba, Lagos.
Jegede, O. (2010). Code-switching and its implications for teaching English Language in
Secondary Schools.’ Journal of Education and Practice. Vol. 5.
Modupeola, O. R. (2013). Code-switching as a teaching strategy: implication for English
language teaching in a multilingual society. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social
Sciences (IOSR) Vol. 14, Issue 3 (July-August 2013) pp. 92-94 DOI: 10.9790/1959-1439294.
Ogunyemi, K. O. and Olagbaju, O. O. (2020). Effects of assertive and aggressive
communication styles on students’ self-esteem and achievement in English Language.
Cross-Cultural Communication, 16(1):96-101. DOI: 10.3968/11594.
Olagbaju, O. O. (2009). Challenges of using Nigerian languages in modern education. An
unpublished paper presented as part of course work for TEE 813.
Olagbaju, O. O. (2014). Multilingual education in Nigeria: Policy provisions, reality on
ground, c challenges and solutions. Journal of Education and Practice 5 (6): 66 – 73.
Onukaogu, C. (2008). Biliteracy and the Attainment of Sustainable Development in
Multilingual Nigeria. Retrieved online on Friday, September 10, 2019, from
Poplack, S. (2001). Code-switching (linguistics). A research carried out at the University
of Ottawa. Online documents at URL:


Publish with Nova Science Publishers

We publish over 800 titles annually by leading researchers from around the world. Submit a Book Proposal Now!