Code Switching in Ethiopian Primary and Secondary EFL Classrooms: A Comparison of its Extent and Types

Dereje Assefa Sime


Abstract: This study explores the practice of Code Switching (CS) in Ethiopian EFL classrooms. To this end, two EFL teachers were observed and audio-recorded for 6 sessions (3 sessions for each). Responding to the extent and types of CS used in the EFL classrooms, the analysis of the classroom interaction transcripts revealed that the use of CS was prevalent, and it was recognized that the participant EFL teachers practiced CS based on the learners’ grade levels. Regarding the extent of L1 use in EFL classes, word count was used as a unit of analysis, and from the total teachers’ language use,  the average percentage of L1 use at the elementary school level was 31.9%; on the other hand, there was 17% L1 use at the secondary school level. Similarly, four patterns or types of CS were used during the observation in both grade levels: Intra-sentential, inter-sentential, extra-sentential (tag) and intra word CS. Among these, intra-sentential CS was used more frequently (53%) from the total CS patterns at the elementary schools (grade 7) level; in contrast, inter-sentential CS was the main (38.6%) type of CS practiced at the secondary school (grade 9) level. Therefore, with the avoidance of intra-word code-switching, it would be appropriate to acknowledge other types of CS as a strategy for teaching English in the EFL classroom discourse like Ethiopia, but its frequency should keep in view of the grade levels of the students.

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