Influence of code switching on students’ oral and written discourse in english in selected schools in Nyatike District, Migori County, Kenya.
Akumu, Elisha Ochieng’
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Proficiency and competence in English is a goal every teacher of the language strives to help his/her students achieve. English is a language of instruction as well as an examinable subject in Kenyan schools. As a language for international communication, it has a special place in the educational systems of most countries of the world. However, among non-English speakers or speakers of English as a second language (L2), learners tend to code-switch back and forth between English and their first languages (L1). This tendency has been viewed as a hindrance to students‟ mastery of the language. Research already conducted on the motivation for code switching and its effect on students‟ performance in English has not been conclusive. The KNEC examinations reports have also decried poor performance in English. Some candidates use mother tongue and even Kiswahili expressions in their essays. Reports from seminars conducted for teachers of English have also shown growing concern that students do code switching whenever they write essays. A casual observation has shown students code switch in their out of class interactions, and in other activities such as symposia, debates and group discussions. The aim of this study was to establish the cause and effects of code switching on students‟ performance in oral and written English with a view to suggesting possible solutions to the adverse effects of code switching on proficiency in English. The samples of the study were seven out of seventeen secondary schools in Nyatike District, Migori County, Kenya. A total student sample of 112 was used. The researcher used descriptive survey design. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistical techniques. Howard Giles‟ Speech Accommodation Theory and Gumperz‟s Conversational Functions Theory constituted the theoretical framework employed in the study. The findings showed that the students code-switched at the intra-sentential more than intersentential level. Majority of the students switched from L2 to L1. Code-switching was influenced by the context and the school environment. Code switching affected the students‟ oral performance more than written performance in terms of syntactic, phonetic, prosodic and lexical error levels. The strategies used to navigate CS were mainly out-of class learning activities, language policy and teaching methodology. The study recommended that these strategies should be reinforced. Further research was recommended to establish the impact of language policy on students‟ English language proficiency, and the impact of teachers‟ professional qualification and experience on students‟ communicative competence.