Code-switching and Code-mixing of English and Bahasa Malaysia in Content-Based Classrooms: Frequency and Attitudes

June 2011
Volume 5 Issue 1

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Title
Code-switching and Code-mixing of English and Bahasa Malaysia in Content-Based Classrooms: Frequency and Attitudes

Kamisah Ariffin & Misyana Susanti Husin
Universiti Teknologi MARA Pahang, Malaysia

Bioprofiles
Kamisah Ariffin, Ph.D. is a lecturer at the Academy of Language Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA Pahang, Malaysia. She holds a TESOL (Hons.) Degree from the University of Southampton, UK and an MA (English) and PhD from Universiti Putra Malaysia. She has over 17 years of teaching experience and has taught English Proficiency, ESP, EAP and Business Communication courses. She is currently the Coordinator of UPENA (the university’s publication Unit) of UiTM Pahang. She has been actively presenting papers at local and international conferences. Her research and academic interests include cross-cultural communication, language choice and use, EAP and ESP.

Misyana Susanti Husin, is a lecturer at the Academy of Language Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA Melaka, Malaysia. She holds a TESL (Hons.) Degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and an MSc (TESL) from Universiti Putra Malaysia. Her research and academic interests include genre analysis, language choice and use, EAP and ESP.

Abstract

This study was undertaken in a public university in Malaysia which prescribes English as the medium of instruction for all courses taught. However, it has been observed that this policy has not been fully adhered to. Code-switching (CS) and code-mixing (CM) of English and Bahasa Malaysia occur extensively in the instructors’ speech in the classroom. This paper attempts to highlight the frequency of this communicative behaviour, and both the instructors’ and students’ attitudes towards it. Using self-completed questionnaires and interviews as methods of data collection, the findings reveal that instructors frequently code-switched and code-mixed between the two languages in the classroom. The analysis shows that the occurrence of these phenomena was related to the instructors’, as well as the students’ own linguistic competence, and the purpose of facilitating effective teaching and learning. There is, however, mixed attitudes towards CS/CM. While both instructors and students agreed that CS/CM can promote better understanding, the latter, however, students with better English proficiency felt that such communicative behaviour can be off-putting as it does not help in improving their linguistic competence in English. The paper, thus, raises some legitimate concerns of the conflict between the policy and its actual implementation, which certainly has some implications on language development, teacher education and policy assessment.

Keywords: attitudes; code-mixing; code-switching; content-based classrooms

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Category: Volume 5 Issue 1 2011