Lahore School of Economics

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Sociolinguistic Analysis of Code-switching in Classrooms Discourse

Prof. Dr. Kaleem Raza Khan, Chairman, Department of English, University of Karachi


Code switching, use of two languages in one speech event, is a natural phenomenon in multilingual and bilingual societies. This practice is common in Pakistani society as well – people speak in two or more than two languages in service encounters, social encounters, in radio programmes, on television talk shows and so forth. All the people with competence in two or three languages make use of these languages whenever and wherever they interact with other people. The same bilingual practices are carried over to educational settings despite the fact that most educational institutions (at primary, secondary and especially at the tertiary level) do not encourage code switching in classrooms.

In fact, this practice is prohibited in a large number of educational institutions. It has been observed that due to the students’ lack of communicative competence in, teachers sometimes resort to the use of the mainstream language to facilitate learning in some classrooms. That is the reason that code switching between English and Urdu (or any other language) takes place in nearly all classrooms in Pakistan. For example, it has been observed and recorded at certain universities that teachers and students both ‘construct knowledge’ in Urdu and English. This paper describes and analyses a few patterns of code switching in such classrooms and tries to explore some possible reasons and outcomes this sociolinguistic phenomenon.

About the presenter:

Prof. Kaleem Raza Khan holds three masters’ degrees: M.A. English Literature; M.A. English Linguistics; and M.A. Linguistics for ELT [UK]. He has held many important positions. He is the former Registrar of University of Karachi and is now the Chairman Department of English for the second time. He has published many research papers on subjects related to linguistics and applied linguistics. He is a life member of several professional societies such as SPELT and Shakespeare Association of Pakistan. He has conducted hundreds of teacher-training workshops throughout Pakistan. His fields of specialization are phonology, grammar, language testing, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/03/2014 01:20:00 PM,

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