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Linguistic Power and Code-Switching in the Foreign Language Classroom

  • Modern English Education
  • Abbr : MEESO
  • 2008, 9(3), pp.1-19
  • Publisher : The Modern English Education Society
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Language Teaching

Jai-Hyoung Cho 1 김옥환 2

1아주대학교
2Indiana University

Candidate

ABSTRACT

In this paper, we will demonstrate that the social status of a language is not just closely related to the sociopolitical status of the language and its users but is a powerful factor in language choice. More specifically, we will first show the different patterns and/or characteristics of code-switching (CS) frequently witnessed in the discourse of an adult Korean language classroom in the United States. Among several views entertained in the literature, we will take the viewpoint that language dominance with respect to bilinguals' identity plays an important role in CS. When a majority language is seen as giving higher social status and more political power, a shift towards the majority language may occur. We will then investigate the micro-politics of some Korean heritage speakers who apparently are not dominated by but dominant over the instructor. We will associate this 'reversed' dominance relation with the characteristically frequent code-switching behavior, which distinguishes the target group from the rest students in the classroom. We will then explore some conscious or subconscious strategic motivation that lies extensively beneath this practice of code-switching in the classroom. Crucially, in the present case, we will show that divergence-they-code in the sense of Gumperz (1982)-is a means to create social distance from one's interlocutor through which social disapproval is communicated.

Citation status

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