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Code-switching in two freshman English classrooms in a university in Southern Taiwan

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:43 authored by Ching-Yi Tien
This study examines the use of Mandarin, Taiwanese, and English in two Freshman English classrooms in a university in southern Taiwan. With a varied language history, several languages are spoken in Taiwan. Although there are monolingual speakers of either Taiwanese or Mandarin, the majority of people in Taiwan are bilingual or trilingual. Therefore, code-switching often occurs in people's daily conversation. Just as languages are used in speaker's daily communication, so it is in the classroom context. The three aims of this study are firstly to explore the nature of classroom talk, focusing specially on how teachers and learners use more than one language to talk around monolingual textbooks in order to accomplish lessons, and secondly to investigate the attitudes of teachers and learners towards the use of more than one language in the classroom (code-switching in the classroom). Thirdly, the study considers the implications of the way language is used in the classroom and the teachers' and learners' attitudes to code-switching. A mixed research method, a combination of quantitative and qualitative perspectives, was utilized in the study, which is based on three major data sources: interviews with two teachers and two groups of students, questionnaires answered by the students, and in-class observations, together with field notes and audio recordings. The study has found that code-switching was used both by the teachers and students in the classrooms. The teachers switched codes, mainly between English and Mandarin, to unlock the meanings from the monolingual English textbooks, for classroom management and to form and maintain solidarity in the classrooms. The students were allowed to use Mandarin and Taiwanese in classrooms. Attitudes towards the usefulness of code-switching in the classrooms were found to be positive amongst the participants.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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