Educators' and Parents' Attitudes Towards Code Switching By Arab Bilinguals: Pedagogical Implications
Dhaouadi, Habiba Hanini
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This study explores educators' and parents' attitudes towards the phenomenon of Arabic-English code switching (CS) in the culturally and linguistically diverse context of the UAE. Arabic-English language mixing is a widespread linguistic behavior among adults as well as younger bilingual speakers due to the pervasiveness of English and bilingualism in both educational and social settings. To investigate different attitudes towards this language phenomenon, the following research seeks to determine whether monolingual and bilingual educators and parents perceive the mixing of Arabic and English as a problem that interferes with the development of bilingual competence, and leads to mental confusion, relative or even lack of proficiency, and native language loss; or as findings from recent research suggest they see CS as a strategy that bilingual children use to develop their communicative competence and conversational skills during peer interaction. More specifically, this study seeks to answer three questions. The first question examines parents' and teachers' awareness of the widespread use of code switching since it is a typical aspect of the speech of Arab bilinguals at school and in social contexts. The second question looks at the reasons underlying the stigma that code switching carries as perceived by parents and educators showing sensitivity to this linguistic phenomenon. One of the possible reasons that underlie negative views of code switching is the extent of parents' and educators' understanding (or lack of it) of the functions and dimensions of CS as a skillful demonstration of bilingual proficiency rather than the result of lack of competence in one or both of the languages. And finally the third question addresses the difference between the attitudes of "younger" versus "older" participants towards the use of language alternation by young learners. The results of the surveys indicated that although CS does not seem to be highly valued among participants, the "older" group of respondents showed more tolerance toward young Arab learners' code switching.