n Journal for Language Teaching = Ijenali Yekufundzisa Lulwimi = Tydskrif vir Taalonderrig - Scaffolded code-switching : a resource for achieving academic literacy?




The aim of this paper is to establish whether code-switching is still common practice in rural Limpopo as it was 16 years ago (McCabe, 1996) and if so, to suggest ways to use it as a resource to aid comprehension of English and to explicitly teach cognitive skills and academic literacy. Many rural South African schools have chosen English as a medium of instruction (MoI) from grade 4; and consequently, English second language learners need to simultaneously master English language skills, content and academic literacy.

Particularly in rural schools, English MoI has led to code-switching between the mother tongue (L1) and English. Through an English Language Teaching (ELT) lens, code-switching (CS) is generally viewed as a reflection of a language deficiency of the speaker, language interference and an obstacle to learning. This view, however, ignores code-switching's functionality and its potential to assist the achievement of academic literacy. CS, clearly an inevitable component of our rural classrooms, could be used as a resource at school from the intermediate phase, through secondary school and to a limited extent at university. CS can be 'scaffolded' at school and gradually 'faded' as learners advance through secondary school and enter tertiary institutions.


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