Functions of Teacher's Codeswitching in Saudi EFL classrooms: A Case Study

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This paper investigates the functionality and typology of teacher's codeswitching in Saudi EFL classrooms in light of Poplack's (1980) classification and with reference to the previously reviewed functions of codeswitching in other linguistic contexts.  The research method used is descriptive case study. Data collection was done through class observation and teacher interview.
The analysis results showed that the three types of Poplack’s (1980) classification were present in the EFL class, i.e. intersentential, intrasentential, and tags. The data analysis shows that all the eight functions found in this study are similar to the ones reviewed previously (Polio & Duff, 1994; Nzwanga, 2000; Seidlitz, 2003; Sert, 2005; Al Masaeed, 2013). Yet, some functions were not traced in this case such as reported speech, teacher’s L1 practice, aesthetic functions, etc.
The function of translation constitutes approximately half of the code switches in the study corpus as previously found in Nzwanga’s study (2000). It is followed by the function of comprehension check. Vocabulary explanation and solidarity are used equally reflecting the findings of Lin (1987) that an EFL teacher can play a para-pedagogical role as a learning facilitator or sympathetic friend by resorting to codeswitching. Grammar instruction constitutes almost one tenth of the codeswitches in this lecture. The least three functions used in the observed class are: qualification, administrative vocabulary, and classroom management. As seen in some functions, codeswitching was used as a pedagogical tool to enhance language learning.
In light of the functions of teacher codeswitching found in this case study, it is recommended that these functions be highlighted in lesson plans. Teachers should not hesitate in codeswitching in language classes as long as it is used wisely to serve a pedagogical or para-pedagogical function.