Role of English-Bangla Code-Switching in Vocabulary Retention: A Case Study at University of Dhaka

  • Neelima AkhterEmail author
Part of the Education in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Concerns and Prospects book series (EDAP, volume 44)


The use of code-switching in second and foreign language teaching has been a contentious issue. It has been mostly regarded as undesirable based on the assumption that it interferes with target language (TL) learning, especially by decreasing the exposure to the TL. In the last two decades, however, there has been a slow bilingual turn in English language teaching (ELT), calling for a judicious use of the first language in language teaching. This chapter reports a mixed-method study conducted at the University of Dhaka on the effects of teacher code-switching on learners’ short-term vocabulary retention. Participants for the study were selected from 100 1st-year undergraduate students majoring in Psychology and 65 2nd-year undergraduate students majoring in Zoology. Using Vocabulary Knowledge Scale (VKS) developed by Wesche and Paribakht, 20 target words were made into a test paper. This test was administered as pretest and posttest to experimental groups that received explanations of the target words both in English and Bangla and control groups that received them only in English. A writing task and two focus group discussions were also used. Independent samples t-test was run between the scores of the experimental and control groups in order to see if there was any significant difference between the vocabulary retention by the code-switching and the English-only groups. The results show that students who received bilingual definitions outperformed those who received English-only definitions. The statistically significant findings indicate a need for re-evaluating the role of the first language in language pedagogy.


Code-switching ELT Vocabulary retention Bilingualism 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of DhakaDhakaBangladesh

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