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Code Switching by Ulfa Rahmi

Code Switching by Ulfa Rahmi

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Published by Ulfa Rahmi
at Deakin University
at Deakin University

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Published by: Ulfa Rahmi on Feb 15, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ULFA RAHMICode-Switching
Clearly, code
switching is highly required in the teaching and learning environmentparticularly in a school which declares itself to use English as the language ofteaching and learning (LOLT) yet students are not proficient enough in English. It actsas scaffolding to support EFL students where at one point when the students areproficient enough in the target language, it is being reduced or not going to beapplied anymore. Code-switching is a linguistic term that refers to an alternation ofwords or phrases between two or more languages among people who share thesame language (Bista, 2010). Generally, code-switching take places when thestudents are incompetent in the target language, in this case is English. Furthermore,its purpose is mainly to achieve two things, namely
filling a linguistic/conceptualgap
and other communicative purposes’ (Gysel 1992, cited in Duran, 1994).
 Swaziland, Rollnick and Rurherford (1996, cited in Setati, Adler, Reed & Bapoo, 2002)in their research of the science classroom, found that learners would be moreeffective in exploring their idea if they use their main language. They argue that withthe absent of code-
switching, learners’ alternativ
e thinking would remainunexposed. In addition, there is a possibility of misconception arising among thelearners since they do not understand the content discourse.In a classroom, code-switching occurs in the discourse of both teachers andlearners. Teacher code-switching happens when the teachers
use the learner’s firstlanguage as an encouragement to motivate students’ cognitive development. As
the teachers realize that their students are confusing and uncomfortable in using theforeign language, teachers need to do code-switching
to build students’
confidence and invite participation in the lesson (Alenezi, 2010). Setati (1998, cited inLim & Presmeg, 2010) mentioned that there are three types of code-switching thatthe teachers could have done, namely, reformulation, content of activity andtranslation.Student code-switching has a function for equivalence, floor-holding, reiteration and
conflict control. Equivalence is functioned as a students’ defensive mechanism that
gives them a chance to continue communication without any gaps resulting fromsecond language incompetence. The second function is floor holding, which
happens when students cannot recall a word in the target language thus they usetheir mother tongue to continue to communicate. The next function is reiteration,which is used when a student comprehends the content. And the last is conflictcontrol. It has a function to avoid misunderstanding (Alenezi, 2010).However, too much code-switching might not benefit the learners. As we keep inmind that using English as the medium of teaching and learning has a purpose to beproficient in English, it could hinder that goal. Teachers also have a dilemma of usingcode-switching. On the one hand, teachers need to make sure that their studentsunderstand the content and could communicate actively. On the other hand, it istheir duty to make their students fluent in English (Setati & Adler, 2000).In the Aceh context where English is a foreign language and a third language after Acehnese and Indonesian language, the use of code-switching is highly crucial.Students who are incompetent in English are still a majority, thus they need a lot ofsupport in creating a convenient environment. By having this comfort environment,student will be motivated and able to understand the subject matter consistentlywith learning language slowly but sure. In South Africa, the use of code-switching inthe rural area is least compared to urban area (Setati & Adler, 2000). However, inAceh the situation is vice versa. It happens because in some rural areas, students stillstruggle with Indonesian language to understand the lesson. Using English will worsenthe condition. Moreover, the national examination which puts far more pressure onthe teachers puts
them a lot of responsibility on students’ performance in subject
matter. Teachers have to make sure that students understand the lesson. Hence,using code-switching is the answer to improve
students’ performance both in
content and language.To sum up, having code-switching in the classroom can be seen as a resource. Itgives students an opportunity to understand and comprehend the lesson deeply. Italso could link students understanding in their first language to the secondlanguage. Moreover, the clarity of a concept can be reach as they understandwhat the meaning is. However, to maximize the linguistic competencies, code-switching should not be over used. With the proper usage, it supports the dual focusof learning objectives
language and content.

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