Document Type : Research article


1 PhD Candidate, Department of English, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran

2 Assistant professor, Department of English, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran.

3 Assistant professor , Department of English, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran.


The objective of the present study was two-fold. First, the effect of speaking task difficulty on EFL lower-intermediate learners’ quantity of code-switching was examined. Second, the effect of speaking task difficulty on the participants’ quality of code-switching was studied. The participants of this study included 61 lower-intermediate language learners in a private English language institute in Iran. The participants performed twelve speaking tasks with easy, medium, and difficult levels of complexity developed by theresearchers. The findings indicated that less than 10 percent of students’ clauses included code-switching. The participants employed significantly more code-switching items under difficult task condition. The findings showed that the participants used code-switching for different purposes including vocabulary, syntactic structure, content, rubric clarification, turn-taking, and pronunciation. The learners employed expressive, referential, and directive language functions to fulfill their purposes and the number of directive items rose as the task difficulty level increased. Regarding the addressee of learners’ code-switches, the inductive analysis of the data showed that the code-switches were self-directed, peer-directed, teacher-directed, teacher and then peer-directed, and peer and then teacher-directed. The participants addressed almost half of the code-switches to their peers; however, more difficult tasks resulted in a higher number of teacher-directed code-switching items.


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