Original Research

Code-switching as a pedagogical practice for senior phase teachers teaching content subjects in OR-Tambo district

Marcia M. Seabela, Thobeka Ncanywa
African Journal of Teacher Education and Development | Vol 3, No 1 | a39 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajoted.v3i1.39 | © 2024 Marcia M. Seabela, Thobeka Ncanywa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 January 2024 | Published: 10 May 2024

About the author(s)

Marcia M. Seabela, Department of Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD), Faculty of Education, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Thobeka Ncanywa, Department of Economic Management Sciences, Faculty of Education, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa


Background: The notion that teaching content subjects in schools utilising code-switching as a pedagogical approach contributes positively to academic achievements is well documented.

Aim: This article demonstrates the effectiveness of code-switching as a pedagogical practice for senior-phase teachers teaching content subjects in some selected schools of the OR-Tambo education district.

Setting: The study was conducted in three semi-rural schools in the Eastern Cape province.

Methods: The study utilised a mixed-method research approach in three public schools. Participants were purposefully selected. Thematic content analysis was used to interpret the results.

Results: The findings of this study indicated that teachers’ frequent use of code-switching during the senior phase teaching of the English language is a norm in a classroom. At the same time, learners were frustrated to learn the content subjects in English. Moreover, poor learner academic background affects their academic performance in the content subjects. The study reveals a notable lack of pedagogic support for teachers from officials in the Department of Education as well as a sizable component of the school administration team.

Conclusion: The use of code-switching is a useful tool to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning in senior-phase lessons.

Contribution: The study recommends that teachers and learners be encouraged to use code-switching, especially when dealing with difficult material to be taught in English. The study recommends that the Department of Education conduct extensive workshops on professional growth. This all-encompassing strategy might seek to strengthen the senior phase classroom, creating a lively and encouraging atmosphere for teachers and learners alike.


code-switching; English language; pedagogy; senior phase; content subjects; academic performance; academic background; Department of Education; School Management Team

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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