Christopher Emdin's Code Switching Analysis

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One’s culture is often learned by watching other people and imitating their actions. The same goes for learning a subject or a language. Generally, languages can even define a culture. In the United States, a way into the culture is to learn the predominant language. This is true for other cultures, as well. A great place to learn, is in a classroom. Christopher Emdin, author of For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y 'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education, describes the ideal classroom setting for teaching students how to effectively code switch. Mrs. Hamma’s Basic English course depicted in Nicholasa Mohr’s short story, “The English Lesson,” is a great representation of this setting. Evidently, Emdin’s claims validate…show more content…
He argues, “for an authentic code switching that involves valuing oneself and one 's culture while appreciating and understanding the codes of other cultures. It involves fluidly navigating multiple spaces and, in the process, creating new codes that embrace a more hybridized identity” (Emdin 178). To gain a hybrid identity, students obviously must obtain knowledge of other cultures. A great place for this would be in a class of immigrants from all over different parts of the world. All of the students taking the Basic English course with Mrs. Hamma are learning how to understand and appreciate others cultures. In turn, these immigrants gain a hybridized identity and are more able to code switch. For Lali in “The English Lesson,” “She was accomplishing something all by herself, and without the help of the man she was dependent on” (Mohr 202). Learning English was her way of obtaining beliefs and values of her own, without having to rely on her husband. The class will help her engage with people in other cultures and languages, especially Americans who speak English. Mrs. Hamma’s class was Lali’s way to escape conformity and sameness in her everyday life with Rudi. Learning English is Lali’s chance to embrace a hybrid identity. In learning English, these students, in turn will learn how to fluidly navigate different places that were…show more content…
Hamma’s teaching style. Emdin states, “Self actualization can never be assessed in the moment. It 's dividends are paid decades after the class is over. The one thing that we do know is that it can only be triggered in a place that values the codes that students bring to the classroom” (176). In a class where all cultures are valued and respected, a realization of worthiness is brought forth. Years after this mentality is taught, it will stick with the students and improve their outlook on the world. In Mrs. Hamma’s class, teaching basic English to immigrants will help improve their speaking abilities as well as improve their social standing. Joseph Fong, a Chinese immigrant taking the course, presented to the class his reason for taking the class. He says “I taking the course in Basic English to speak good and improve my position better in this country” (Mohr 197). At this moment in time, clearly, he is not proficient in speaking English. However, he is understood and will improve as the course progresses. In enhancing his English foundation, Mr. Fong will be able to improve his social standing and position in the United States. Along with the language aspect, there is a cultural aspect too. Mrs. Hamma’s course is introducing it’s students to other immigrants who have similar stories but much different cultures. Being culturally relative in the classroom, will
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