Code Switching in the Classroom

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will examine code switching: what it is, how we use it, and how we can practice using it in the classroom in order to reach out to students and speak their language.

Say What?!

If you track your greetings throughout the day to the various people you encounter, you might notice something interesting… how you talk with different groups can change drastically from one moment to the next. For example, take a look at the following list of typical greetings and notice how they vary based on who is being addressed.

  • To a romantic partner: 'Hello, sweetie.' in a low, sultry whisper
  • To a baby: 'Aren't you a pwecious wittle darling?' in a high-pitched squeak
  • To a friend: 'Girl, you will not believe what happened!' in an excited voice
  • To a coworker: 'Is it Friday yet?' in a flat affect
  • To a superior: 'Is there anything I can do for you?' in an eager tone
  • To a grandmother: 'How are you feeling today?' in a deliberate, audible voice
  • To a class: 'Good morning, students!' in a chipper, energetic tone

Code Switching

The list above are examples of code switching. Teachers have to be especially skilled at this to interact effectively with students, parents, administrators and other teachers. Code switching is a communication strategy where one's personality is expressed differently through their tone, diction and inflection.

This helps to establish and maintain healthy boundaries, to make group connections and identify outsiders of a particular group. Everyone engages in code switching to some degree. It begins in childhood, and you can observe it in action. Just listen to children speak to each other when they think no adults are listening.

Code switching is when people speak differently for different audiences
image of code switching

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support