Language Alternation in University Classrooms

By Taha, T. A. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2008 | Go to article overview

Language Alternation in University Classrooms


Taha, T. A., Journal of Instructional Psychology


This paper examines the alternate use of Arabic and English in the context of a university classroom, where a policy to use the former language in place of the latter was being implemented. Analysis of a sample of recorded university lectures of English and Arabic medium classes in sciences and humanities reveals that teachers use code switching, consciously and/or unconsciously, as a pedagogic resource and strategy to achieve a variety of communicative functions, including effective classroom interaction, topic change, and solidarity, among other functions. Hastiness in policy implementation without adequate planning or preparation also seemed to play a role in the translation of policy into actual classroom practice.

Background

This paper (1) is based on classroom research carried out as part of a wider study of the implementation of Arabicization (i.e. the policy of using Arabic as a medium of instruction) at the university level in Sudan (Taha, 1990). Although the changeover to Arabic in secondary schools was completed in 1968/9, this policy was not officially adopted in higher education institutions until the early eighties under the increasing influence of the Islamist forces. In fact, similar trends in the adoption of Arabic as the sole medium of education have been developed in other Arabic speaking countries, such as Algeria and Morocco. The way the policy was carried out in secondary schools in the sixties was criticized by Hurriez (1968) and Hawkes (1969),among others, who maintained that at the initial implementation phase in schools, some influential Sudanese officials were at the time against the policy. Criticisms also included abruptness in implementation and lack of appropriate and adequate textbooks. In 1983, The Sudan National Council for Higher Education endorsed the principle of Arabicization of higher education institutions in the country. And, by 1987 the program was carried out in several faculties of the University of Khartoum, the oldest English medium institution in the country. In 1990, when the National Islamic Front backed government took over, the policy was further endorsed. Now the policy is implemented in almost all universities, with the exception of some private colleges which use English as a medium of instruction (2).

The Study

The research upon which this paper is based included: (1) A sociolinguistic survey of attitudes to language and language policy, (2) Case study work involving interviews with a sub-sample of respondents, and, (3) observation of language use in a selection of classrooms within the context of Khartoum University, Sudan. The main focus of this paper will be on the classroom observations conducted in the context of the transitional phase of policy implementation, mainly the alternate use of Arabic and English in the university classrooms; for the report on the survey work, see Taha (1990). The objectives of the observations were:

1. To gain some insights into the ways in which the policy was being translated into classroom practice.

2. To investigate the ways in which English and Arabic were being used in classrooms by teachers with students whose linguistic abilities vary considerably.

3. To find out whether classroom language practices reflected the respondents' reports of language patterns in the survey.

The classroom data included nine lectures, both science and social science classes that were tape recorded. Of the nine classes, six were officially designated as Arabic medium and three were English medium. The focus of recording was on the teachers' discourse. This is because in some university classes such as these, teacher talk predominates. However, the relatively small size of most of the classes recorded, ensured that almost all students interactions with the teachers were recorded.

Related Code switching Studies

The aspect of classroom discourse that provides the focus of the analysis is code switching or language alternation, primarily in teacher talk. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Language Alternation in University Classrooms
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.