In countries where the language of instruction is not the learners’ first language, code switching is recognized as an important feature in the learning and teaching of mathematics. Although it is not officially accepted in Botswana, teachers prefer this style of speech for both reformulation of instructions and explanation of concepts. Thus, the intention of this study was to examine the impact of code switching on students’ proficiency in the language of instruction. Using Ellis’ (1997) theory of second language acquisition as a basis for analysis, the paper has concluded that inter sentential code switching—in which utterances in one code are translated into another—is the only one promising in terms of both concept clarification and the improvement of students’ competence and proficiency in the language of teaching and learning. The other forms of code switching, such as insertion and alternation, appear to encourage positional simplification and the chunking strategies of second language acquisition, strategies that work against classroom discourse.
Lecturer, Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Faculty of Education, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
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