Critique of Conflicts and tensions in codeswitching in a Taiwanese EFL classroom

The article “Conflicts and tensions in codeswitching in a Taiwanese EFL classroom” by Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling explores codeswitching (CS) as a strategy utilized by teachers in their English as a foreign language (EFL) classrooms in two commercial cram and bushibans schools in Taipei, Taiwan. The special focus of the authors in the research was the perceived functions of codeswitching in the context of EFL classrooms, as well as, the extent to which these functions form sources of tension and conflict. Based on this understanding, the study was guided by three main research questions. Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling sough to find out what are the specific and general functions of codeswitching in the contexts of commercial cram and bushibans schools? The authors also focused on determining how much codeswitching occurs at intermediate language level in two commercial language schools in Taipei and do codeswitching functions change over the span of the lesson?

The research methodology for employed by Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling entailed seeking permission from schools so as to carry out research on teachers and students. Thus, the population for the study comprised of teachers and students from a sample of the two commercial cram and bushibans schools in Taipei, Taiwan. The research utilized interviews and observation as the main data collection methods. Moreover, the study involved conducting detailed interviews with students and teachers, classroom observations and recording classroom interactions in each of the schools in the sample selected by the authors with the objective of finding out the functions of codeswitching in classrooms, as well as, its impact on students and teachers in terms of tensions and conflicts with regard to its extent of use.

Data collected from recordings was transcribed and later analyzed together with data amassed from observations and interviews for patterns of codeswitching between the teachers’ mother tongue and English in their respective classrooms. Through a quick scan of the analyzed data, Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling found that there was extensive utilization of codeswitching in each of the teachers’ interactions with their students. Moreover, in terms of the extent or volume of CS in classrooms, the study found that there is relatively little variation of codeswitching between the two commercial school contexts, but the level of codeswitching in the two commercial language schools was high. It is imperative to note that despite the differences in the models of the schools in terms of approaches to language learning and teaching, the teachers in both schools used both languages, that is, English and their mother tongue with similar degrees of frequency in the lessons that Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling observed.

Despite the fact that the study involved small samples and the authors were not sure whether the samples were typical of teachers, their institutions of learning or cram schools in general, Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling outline their data analysis and report their findings in an exemplary manner and backed it with numerical, percentage and tabulated evidence. Moreover, the findings of this research are in line with other works that evince that codeswittching is prevalent in language classrooms even in situations whereby official policies attempt to control or do away with the practice. From the findings of this study, Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling were able to conclude that having an ‘English-only’ rule is preposterous as it implies that people do not have to reckon about where and when codeswitching is useful and valid and where and when CS is pedagogically less than useful and invalid. This conclusion is justified in the light of data presented by the authors.

The research conducted by Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling has certain implications. In order to better discern these implications, we need to look at the specific role that codeswitching plays in the classroom. The point that is vivid in this article is that codeswitching is not a consequence of insufficient English language competence where teachers are concerned (Raschka, Sercombe and Chi-Ling, 2009, p. 169). Instead, the utilization of codeswitching by teachers is strategic and this indicates a high level of general communication competence on the part of teachers.  This implication is not only in line with the conclusion and data presented in the study but also warranted in light of the findings of the research.Critique of Conflicts and tensions in codeswitching in a Taiwanese EFL classroom










Work Cited

Raschka, Christine et al. “Conflicts And Tensions In Codeswitching In A Taiwanese EFL Classroom.” International Journal Of Bilingual Education And Bilingualism, vol 12, no. 2, 2009, pp. 157-171. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/13670050802153152.