South Korean High School English Teachers' Code Switching: Questions and Challenges in the Drive for Maximal Use of English in Teaching



    1. Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
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    • Dilin Liu is professor and director of MA TESOL at Oklahoma City University. He has published in the areas of L2 acquisition, pedagogy, and English grammar and usage.


    1. Cho-San University Kwang-Ju, South Korea
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    • Gil-Soon Ahn is a professor at Chosun University, South Korea, where he teaches TOEFL and TOEIC preparation courses. His research interested include grammar pedagogy.


    1. Dongdaemun Middle School Seoul, South Korea
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    • Kyung-Suk Baek is an English teacher at Dongdaemun Middle School in South Korea. Her research interests include cooperative learning and assessment.


    1. Bu Gae High School Incheon, South Korea
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    • Nan Ok Han has been a high school English teacher in South Korea for nearly 20 years. She currently teaches at Bu Gae High School. Her research interests include pedagogy, especially talk-based instruction.


This study describes classroom code-switching practices in South Korean high schools after the South Korean Ministry of Education requested that English teachers maximize their English use. The data comprised the recorded language from 13 high school English teachers' classrooms and teachers' and students' responses to surveys asking about their reactions to the call for maximal use of English in class and the challenges they are facing. The data analysis indicates that (a) the teachers used on average a rather low amount of English (32%), lower than what they and their students considered appropriate (53%–58%); (b) the teachers' code switching followed certain patterns and principles, although it was often not principle governed, and their use of Korean (L1) was very effective for several functions; (c) teachers' beliefs tended to affect their code-switching practices; (d) teachers' language use appeared to affect students' language behavior in class, although students' decisions on what language to use often depended on the question's complexity and level of difficulty; and (e) curriculum guidelines seemed to affect teachers' language use, but factors like teachers' beliefs and teaching contexts might severely mitigate their impact. Pedagogical implications and suggestions for further research are also discussed.