It is a common phenomenon in many English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts for teachers to use the first language to teach English, as it is often assumed that this code-mixing eases novice learners into the target language. However, the extent to which and the exact ways in which such code-mixing practices support student learning have not been subjected to scrutiny via the analytic lens of classroom discourse analysis. This paper reports the findings of a qualitative study of the classroom talk of EFL teachers in China aimed at providing a better understanding of how their code-mixing practices contribute to student learning. The theoretical lens through which the study has been undertaken relates to Bakhtin’s concept of dialogism, which views dialogue as the principal means for meaning-making and learning. In this study, ‘dialogism’ is operationalized not only in the initiation-response-feedback sequences that transpire between the expert teacher and novice learner, but also in how teachers move between Chinese and English in order to facilitate the inter-animation of the two languages. The primary data for this study comprises approximately 30 hours of audio-recordings of lessons taught by 15 EFL teachers at the high school level in two Chinese cities. The analysis produces findings that shed light on when and how code-mixing practices contribute to student learning. The implications of these findings will be discussed in relation to EFL education and, more broadly, the role of teacher talk in promoting language learning and cognitive engagement.
Peter Teo, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Stream: Professional concerns
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