English Australia Journal : English Australia Journal 31.1
Volume 31 No 1 5 English Australia Journal Given the various functions it can serve in the classroom, CS has been the focus of a number of empirical research studies undertaken in ESL, EFL and other second language classrooms (e.g . , Metila, 2011; Mustafa & Al-Khatib, 1994; Swain & Lapkin, 2000). The L1 and the TL of the learners in these studies have involved various languages, including English, French, Swedish, Spanish, Japanese, Sri Lankan, Malaysian, Finnish and Arabic. For example, Swain and Lapkin (2000) undertook their study with English L1 learners of French. When they observed these students performing two tasks in the classroom they found the learners’ use of CS seemed to be intentional, and that lower achieving learners tended to use their L1 to problem- solve more than did the high achieving learners. Other classroom studies have also found that CS reflects the relatively unequal mastery of the language learners’ L1 and L2. If students know one language better than the other, it is natural that they will switch to the language that they know and feel secure in using (Simon, 2001). However, Valdés-Fallis (1978) claimed that students’ CS should not be automatically considered as a manifestation of a lack of language proficiency, rather it may be that the students are operating within the complex systems of the two languages in order to fulfil certain communicative ends. Further, findings from other studies (e.g., Metila, 2011; Tarone & Swain, 1995) indicate that when students switch codes, it does not necessarily mean that they are deficient in the L2, instead there are a multitude of reasons why students CS in the classroom. For instance, when Metila (2011) observed 34 female adolescents in a L2 classroom in the Philippines, he found that his participants used CS for clarifying language items, getting vocabulary instruction and just as part of normal classroom interaction. He further claimed that CS appeared to have a strong effect on students’ performance. Despite the body of research, there have been only few studies on CS in Australian classrooms. One such study, by Tognini and Oliver (2012), involved observation of 10 French and Italian classes in Australian primary and high schools. They found that through peer interaction, the use of L1 helps learners support each other in their L2 learning (e.g., in the development of their understanding of L2 grammar). There is also a dearth of studies conducted with Arabic speakers, both in Australia and elsewhere. One exception is a study by Mustafa and Al-Khatib (1994) who found that CS was mostly used by the Iranian participants for translation purposes. This is a similar finding to that of Merritt, Cleghom, Abagi and Bunyi (1992) who undertook their study with language learners in Kenya. Whether the same pattern of CS use exists for adult Arabic speakers in ESL classrooms in Australia is unclear. On this basis, the current study seeks to answer the following question: For what purpose do university-level Arabic students use CS in ESL classrooms in Australian university?
English Australia Journal 30.1
English Australia Journal 31.2