Montreal code-switching

Natalie Lark

Like most other North American cities, if you wander down the streets of Montreal and through its neighborhoods, you will hear most of the languages of the world spoken and brought to the city by immigrants.

However, Montreal offers a particular twist to linguistic diversity in urban areas by the number of native-born speakers using two languages in their day-to-day lives (French and English), while the immigrants can use three or more languages. So, this final post is dedicated to my favorite topic called code-switching in Montreal, in which I am about to discuss the reasons of code-switching mentioned in the textbook and based on my own observations.

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Code-switching? Chinglish?


“Code-switching” is an interesting phenomenon for people who speak the same languages. When we covered the concept in class, the first thing comes in my mind is “Chinglish”, which refers to spoken English influenced by Chinese for most Chinese people who learn English as a second language. However, the example gives by Van Herk (2012), “Spanish-English switching in the US is often called Spanglish, while Canadian French-English switching is Franglais”. From my understandings, Spanglish and Franglais seem to have different connotation from Chinglish.

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Is Code-Switching a Skill or a Short Coming?

By: Faten Alzaid

One day I was sitting with my 3 years old boy and we were having this conversation:

Me: Hi Faisal, what are you doing?

Son: I want to play with my toys.

Me: Ok, Let’s play“pretending game”?

Son: Ok.

*The font in the bold= English

*The font in the italic = Arabic

Right after this conversation my husband whispered in my ears “please use only Arabic!”.

Implementing code-switching in the context of using two languages at the same time is considered as a fancy speech back home in Saudi Arabia. People most likely believe that the person who uses code-switching is trying to be more prestigious. Interestingly, since I arrived to Montreal, four years ago, I notice that people do naturally exchange two languages in their speech using French and English. Even in the bi\multilingual education context, there are conflicts opinions regarding code-switching phenomenon. For example, Creese and Blackledge (2010) have shown different research studies that some of which are counted code-switching as positive pedagogy while others not. These different beliefs towards code-switching lead me to wonder why code-switching is considered as a disadvantage in some contexts while it seems as an advantage in the others?

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Is Translanguaging an Ideal Method to Use in an ESL or FSL classroom?

Posted by Cheryl Lingjuan Yan (Post #3)

Translanguaging has had a forceful impact on the field of Applied Linguistics. It also has contributed greatly to our understandings of language, bilingualism and education (Garcia & Wei, 2013). Translanguaging is such a powerful method of language teaching, that it has been applied widely into a great number of ESL or FSL classrooms by language teachers. It reminds me of how a second language classroom is like in China. Learning English is mandatory in the Chinese Education system starting from the 3rd grade in elementary school through college. As a Chinese student, I acquired English as a second language since 9 years old. I remember when I was learning English, teachers did the code-switching all the time. Of course he/she would speak English in class in order to make us get more English exposure, but the good part is he/she would switch back to Mandarin as long as we had something hard to understand. English, to many L2 learners in China, represents a better future, more job opportunities and higher living standard. Therefore, people in China really have a strong motivation in learning it. Doubtlessly, it is not only in China, thanks to English’s dominant stance in in almost all facets in our society, such as politics, economy, education, etc. L2 English users continue and will continue to grow, far exceeding the the number of native English speakers.

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