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Title: The differential effects of teacher code-switching on the vocabulary acquisition of adult and young EFL learners : a study in the Korean context
Author: Lee, Jang Ho
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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In Second Language Acquisition (SLA)literature there has been a considerable theoretical debate over the issue of teachers’ use of the students’ first language, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘code-switching’. Yet to date there has been little study of the effect of teachers’ use of code-switching (CS) on the second language learning itself. Therefore the aim of this research was to study the effect of teachers’ CS on the learning of English word meanings by two age groups – 19- and 12-year–old EFL students in Korea. To this end, this study implemented a quasi-experimental design but conducive to ecological validity, drawing on intact EFL classrooms of two kinds: one with monolingual English teachers (English-only condition) and the other with bilingual teachers who speak mainly English but occasionally switch to Korean to explain unknown English words (CS condition). Under these two different instructional types, the participants – 286 adult and 443 young learners – were encouraged to learn previously unknown English words, drawn from reading texts, through their teachers’ explanations. The study also employed a participant questionnaire and follow-up interviews, so as to shed light on the issue of teacher CS from the learners’ perspective. The results reveal that, for both age groups, the teachers’ CS by and large yielded better learning results, in terms of vocabulary gains, than English-only instruction. However, an inspection of the effect sizes further shows that young learners, compared with adult ones, might benefit from the CS environment to an even greater degree in the learning of vocabulary. The findings from the questionnaire and interviews further suggest that this differential effect of teachers’ CS might be due to the young learners’ overwhelming preference for teachers’ CS in learning English. These differences both in results and learner perceptions are explained as resulting from proficiency levels on the one hand and levels of learning experience on the other. Having discovered these differential effects of teachers’ CS on the two age groups, the findings of the present thesis call for a reconsideration of pedagogical decisions regarding L2-only instruction, in particular for young L2 learners.
Supervisor: Macaro, Ernesto Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Applied linguistics ; code-switching ; second language acquisition ; vocabulary acquisition ; English language teaching ; age in SLA ; EFL in Korea