‘Medium of instruction’ vs. ‘medium of classroom interaction': language choice in a French complementary school classroom in Scotland

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to account for language choice and alternation phenomena we have observed in a French complementary school classroom in Scotland. In this classroom, talk can be conducted in French (the official medium of instruction), in English (the other language in contact) and in both French and English. A critical review of the literature has revealed that current studies of bilingual classroom talk are conducted either from a ‘local order’ perspective or from an ‘overall order’ perspective. While the local order perspective is indifferent towards the phenomena we have observed in the target classroom, the overall order perspective can account only for part of the data, namely, cases where talk is conducted in the medium of instruction. Therefore, drawing on ethnomethodology and conversation analysis, this paper suggests an alternative view. Building on Gafaranga, we demonstrate that the notion of ‘medium of classroom interaction’ is a more appropriate ‘scheme’ for the interpretation of the bilingual practices we have observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-334
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism
Volume14
Issue number3
Early online date8 Sep 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011

Keywords

  • code-switching
  • bilingualism
  • classroom interaction
  • conversation analysis
  • complementary school
  • French

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