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The teacher’s codeswitching and the learner’s strategic response: Pursuing a research agenda. Ernesto Macaro University of Oxford. outline. Importance of the topic Different backdrops to the topic Research carried out over a number of years Defining codeswitching
The teacher’s codeswitching and the learner’s strategic response: Pursuing a research agenda Ernesto Macaro University of Oxford
outline • Importance of the topic • Different backdrops to the topic • Research carried out over a number of years • Defining codeswitching • Recommendations to practitioners
Findings • Most teachers believed L2 should be predominant language • Most teachers felt limited L1 was useful • L1 facilitated setting up tasks (collaborative learning) • L1 sometimes needed to explain new lexical items which arise in interaction
Why? • Me? • Not many answers? Slippery issue? • So much interest? • Why focus on teacher? • Why the huge pendulum swing?
Why the huge pendulum swing? Theoretical perspectives 1960s Frequent L1 use accepted 1980s L1 use banned
Why the huge pendulum swing? Theoretical perspectives 2000s L1 use accepted 1980s L1 use banned
Recent prominent publications • Guy Cook (2010). Translation in language teaching. OUP • Glenn Levine (2011). Code choice in the language classroom. Multilingual Matters
NS/NNS teacher • ‘English-only’ ; ‘English-through-English’; ‘Full-English’ • Only an issue in EFL • Global political status of English (lingua franca) • ‘native’ is imprecise and contestable • Not the language you hear at birth; language you can best operate in
advantages and disadvantages • the presence of two languages in the classroom • a constant source of intellectual stimulation • opportunity to reflect on pedagogy • Monolingual teacher: main challenge how to communicate with students • Bilingual teacher: every action involves a major pedagogical decision
Socio-cultural • classrooms are communities of practice • Language is a tool for learning • Interaction needs to be ‘authenticated’ (Van Lier)
Socio-cultural Studies • L1 has therefore been identified as a tool with which the individual not only thinks about language during use, the ‘inner voice’ for working out the task in question,but also the tool with which s/he progresses the task with others. • The evidence so far, however, is that it facilitates classroom interaction, not language acquisition per se. • evidence that codeswitching among learners develops their interlanguage or their language skills is thin.
Linguistic imperialism? Negotiated Learning? Excuse for GTM? • the use of the L1 and the amount of that use cannot be left undetermined. • No study shows positive outcomes of a classroom typified by impoverished L2 input and interaction
Backdrop 3 National language policy
Her Majesty’s Inspectors in the UK “learners had no problem understanding lessons competently taught entirely in the target language” No problem understanding If lesson competently taught Circularity?
Classroom L1 use around the world 2% -5% (Kong & Zhang, 2005), 4% - 12% (Macaro, 2001), 0 – 18% (Rolin-Ianziti & Brownlie, 2002), 0% - 60% (Levine, 2003), 0% - 90% (Duff & Polio, 1990) ‘pragmatic’? Unprincipled and ad hoc?
FUNCTIONS of L1 use: • contrasting L1 and L2 forms, • providing metalinguistic cues, • Translating lexical items • giving L1 explanations of previously used L2 utterances, • providing instructions for carrying out tasks, prompting L2 use, • commenting on social events, • eliciting learner participation, • classroom management • Short-cut to learning
The L1 as a short cut to learning ? What does that mean?
I HAVE YET TO COME ACROSS A STUDY OF THE FUNCTIONS OF CODESWITCHING WHICH IDENTIFIES A FUNCTION THAT IS ALWAYS CARRIED OUT IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE! • An opportunity for a research project!
oh the research says teachers are using anything between 0% and 90% Oh right, thank you very much, that’ll do nicely! How much L1 am I allowed to use?
Teacher positions on the value of the L1 • Virtual position • Maximal position • Optimal position
Backdrop 4 Meaning-focus and alternative purpose
Medium of instruction Lo, Y.Y. and Macaro E. (2012). The medium of instruction and classroom interaction: evidence from Hong Kong secondary schools. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15, 1, 29-52.
Codeswitching and vocabulary Tian & Macaro 2012 forthcoming. Language Teaching Research
Backdrop 6 Macaro (with reviewers)
Research Method • Year 9 learners learning French in UK • After listening to a text teacher attempted to explain new lexical using L2 definition, paraphrase and contextualization (video-recorded) • Stimulated recall some days later • Reverse procedure: new items explained in L1 • Students asked for preferences
Findings • Students’ strategies for understanding the L2 word very limited: almost entirely reliant on the cognate nature of the word • Students’ strategies for understanding the L2 explanations very limited: almost entirely reliant on the cognate nature of any word in the teacher’s (spoken) explanation
Conclusion • If teachers want to put across the meaning of new lexical items (i.e. L2 only approach) they will need to: • Train/help their students to cope with L2-only input. • Alternative strategies to cognates.
Example of intra-sentential codeswitching Cara XXXXXXsolo una breve nota: non comparare un B.Sc. 2:1 con una laurea del vecchio ordinamento italiano. E' molto unfair.La laurea italiana del vecchio ordinamento durava di media 7 anni, e meno del 30% degli iscritti al primo anno completava gli studi. Invece un bachelor inglese dura 3 anni e con delle percentuali di drop out come quelle italiane qui un dipartimento verrebbe chiuso immediatamente per poor teaching.Se prendi un first class student inglese e lo fai studiare per 7 anni sarebbe preparato quanto noi. Non credo a superiorita' genetiche!!! (Italian L1; English L2) • e-mail from an Italian academic to another (both living in UK)
Chinese teacher explaining to bilingual children how crickets make their noise • dui, RUB, women jintian jixu shang xishuai zhe ke. Nimen zuotian zai ESL xuele yige xin si DEVELOPMENT. Na shi shenme yisi.
Teacher as dictionary designer Learner L1 concept L2 concept Co-construction of meaning monolingual bilingual bilingual Information: L1 options Information: L2 options • Definition • Paraphrase • Circumlocution • Exposition • Contextualization • Synonym/antonym • Hierarchical exemplification • Definition • Paraphrase • Circumlocution • Exposition • Contextualization • Synonym/antonym • Hierarchical exemplification
Practical implications for the bilingual teacher • Reject the ‘maximal position’ both for yourself and for those you are training to be teachers • BUT! The ‘optimal position’ requires constant justification and heart-searching! • Changing to L2 as the Medium of Instruction (CLIL) requires training; otherwise the interaction may become monologic.
Practical implications for the bilingual teacher • Ask your students what they do when they try to work out what you are saying in L2; particularly how they work out the meaning of a new word from your information about that new word. • (particularly younger learners) need help in coping with teacher L2 input. • Try to think of yourself as a walking dictionary and dictionary designer