Functions of codeswitching in ESL classrooms: Socialising bilingualism in Jaffna

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This study analyses codeswitched utterances in ESL classes of 24 secondary school teachers in Jaffna (Sri Lanka). Although teachers are mostly unaware of using or permitting Tamil, and even consider it inappropriate for ESL classrooms, the study shows some useful functions codeswitching serves for classroom management and transmission of lesson content. The negotiation of values, identities and roles through codeswitching during the unintended opportunities in the classroom additionally prepares students for their sociolinguistic life outside. Since it is primarily through codeswitching that bilingualism persists in nationalistic Jaffna, the study posits that code choice in the ESL classroom is influenced by the modes of bilingualism existing outside. The communicative norms in the classroom also serve to reinforce language attitudes and practice in society. In the light of developments in communicative pedagogies, the study argues that codeswitching might well be a socially relevant language learning goal and teaching strategy in Jaffna.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-195
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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