University Teaching through the Medium of English: Code-mixing or Code-switching?
Download PDF

St. Petersburg State University, the participants included teachers of special disciplines of a wide range of humanities and exact sciences.

" />


Code-switching (CS)
Code-mixing (CM)
Language as a medium of instruction
English as a medium of instruction
Internationalization of higher education
Bilingual higher education in Russia
Submitted : 2023-06-21
Accepted : 2023-07-06
Published : 2023-07-21


The internationalization of Russian higher education contributes to the steady increase in the number of courses and programmes in the intermediary language, which in most cases is English, steadily gaining the status of the language of instruction. The article deals with the linguistic phenomena of code-switching and code-mixing in the context of university teaching of special disciplines in English, which is a foreign or a second language for all participants in the educational process – teachers and students. Particular attention is paid to the distinction between the terms “code-switching” (CS) and “code-mixing” (CM), which is of practical significance for the formation of the methodology of teaching special disciplines in an intermediate language as a special field of professional linguodidactics, as well as for the formation of the content of professional development programmes for university teachers. The phenomenon of code-switching discussed in the article deserves close attention of linguists and psycholinguists, but in this article the author limits herself to studying speech behavior of bilingual university teachers from the linguodidactic point of view. Thus, this study lies in the field of pedagogy and is an attempt to determine the nature of switching from English as the language of instruction or intermediary language to Russian as the native language in the aspect of the English-Russian code-mixing and code-switching. The subject under study in this case is the attitude of Russian-speaking university teachers to the role of the native language in the process of teaching the subject in English by means of a survey. The results of the survey, though subjective, allow us to make a primary statement that the observed transitions from the language of instruction (English) to the native language (Russian) in the teacher’s speech represent cases of marked and conscious code-switching, carried out in the context of the educational process, rather than code-mixing. The study was conducted at St. Petersburg State University, the participants included teachers of special disciplines of a wide range of the humanities and sciences.

(code switching). The subject under study in this case is the attitude of Russian-speaking bilingual teachers about the role of the mother tongue in the process of teaching the subject in English by the survey method. The results of the survey, with all their subjectivity, nevertheless allow us to make the primary assertion that the observed transitions in the speech of the bilingual teacher's speech (English and Russian) represent cases of deliberate "code switching" performed in the context of the educational process and not a "mixing of codes". The research was conducted at

St. Petersburg State University, the participants included teachers of special disciplines of a wide range of humanities and exact sciences.


Knight J, 2013, The Changing Landscape of Higher Education Internationalization – for Better or Worse?. Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education, 17(3): 84–90.

Dearden J, 2015, English as a Medium of Instruction – a Growing Phenomenon, British Council,

Airey J, Lauridsen KM, Räsänen A, et al., 2017, The Expansion of English-Medium Instruction in the Nordic Countries: Can Top-Down University Policies Encourage Bottom-Up Disciplinary Literacy Goals?. Higher Education, 73(4): 561–576.

Baker W, Hüttner J, 2017, English and More: A Multisite Study of Roles and Conceptualizations of Language in English Medium Multilingual Universities from Europe to Asia. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 38(6): 501–516.

Fenton-Smith B, Humphreys P, Walkinshaw I, (eds) 2017, English Medium Instruction in Higher Education in Asia-Pacific: From Policy to Pedagogy, in Multilingual Education, Springer, New York,

Macaro E, Curle S, Pun J, et al., 2018, A Systematic Review of English Medium Instruction in Higher Education. Language Teaching, 51(1): 36–76.

Kirkpatrick TA, 2011, Internationalization of Englishization: Medium of Instruction in Today’s Universities. Hong Kong Institute of Education, Centre for Governance and Citizenship, Hong Kong,

Lanvers U, Hultgren AK, 2018, The Englishization of European Education: Concluding Remarks. European Journal of Language Policy, 10(1): 147–152.

Wilkinson R, Gabriels R, 2021, The Englishization of Higher Education in Europe, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam.

Belyaeva E, Kuznetsova L, 2018, Implementing EMI at a Russian University: A Study of Content Lecturers’ Perspectives. Journal of Teaching English for Specific and Academic Purposes, 6(3): 325–439.

Zhura VV, Rudova YV, 2017, Foreign Language Medium Instruction in Russian Higher Medical Schools: Problems and Prospects, Medicinskoe Obrazovanie i Vuzovskaya Nauka, 2(10): 73–77.

Melezhik KA, 2016, Linguistic Policy and Linguistic Reality of Internationalization of the University Community, Politicheskaya Lingvistika, 1: 151–158.

Macaro E, 2009, Teacher Use of Codeswitching in the Second Language Classroom. First Language Use in Second and Foreign Language Learning, Multilingual Matters, Bristol, 35–49.

Barnard R, McLellan J, 2014, Codeswitching in English Medium Classes: Case Studies and Perspectives from East Asian Contexts, Multilingual Matters, Bristol.

Sanchez-Garcia D, 2018, Codeswitching Practices in the Discourse of Two Lecturers in English-Medium-Instruction at University. ELIA (Estudios de Lingüística Inglesa Aplicada), 18: 105–135.

Simboon NE, Oliver R, Mercieca P, 2020, Lecturers’ Perceptions of English Medium Instruction (EMI) Practice at a University in Indonesia. Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, 28(2): 1065–1081.

Auer P, Moyer M, Muysken P, 2014, Connecting Approaches to Code-Switching in West Africa. International Journal of Bilingualism, 18(4): 447–454.

Jiang Li, Zhang LJ, May S, 2016, Implementing English-Medium Instruction (EMI) in China: Teachers’ Practices and Perceptions, and Students’ Learning Motivation and Needs. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 22(2): 1–13,

Myers-Scotton C, 1993, Social Motivations for Codeswitching: Evidence from Africa, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Muysken P, 2000, Bilingual Speech. A Typology of Code-Mixing, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Eppler E, 1994, Code-Switching in ‘Emigranto’. Vienna English Working Papers, 3: 75–94.

Chirsheva GN, 2008, Code Switching in Communication of Russian Students. Yazyk, Kommunikaciya Isocial'naya Sreda, 6: 63–79.

Mutylina AY, 2011, On the Differentiation of the Concepts of “Switching” and “Mixing Codes” (Using the Example of Oral Speech of Russian-Chinese Bilinguals in Beijing). Vestnik Irkutskogo Gosudarstvennogo Lingvisticheskogo Universiteta, 1: 52–60.

Khilkhanova EV, Papinova ZB, 2018, On the Question of the Terms Code Switching, Code Mixing, Inclusions and Criteria for Their Differentiation. Mir Nauki, Kul'tury, Obrazovaniya, 2(69): 668–671.

Zhiganova AV, 2011, The Role of Switching the Language Code in Advertising. Vestnik Nizhegorodskogo Gosudarstvennogo Lingvisticheskogo Universiteta im. N. A. Dobrolyubova, 13: 33–41.

Bagana Z, Blazhevich YS, 2010, On the Issue of Switching Codes. Nauchnye Vedomosti. Seriya Gumanitarnye Nauki, 12(83): 63–67.

Protsenko EA, The Problem of Code Switching in Foreign Linguistics (a Brief Review of the Literature over the Past Decades). Vestnik Voronezhskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta. Seriya: Lingvistika i Mezhkul'turnaya Kommunikaciya, 1: 123–127.

Shifman DV, 2020, The Problem of Switching Language Codes in Teaching a Foreign Language. Tvorchestvo i Sovremennost’, 1(12): 209–218.

Artamonova TS, 2016, Language Contact Processes: Bilingualism, Code Switching. Filologicheskie Nauki. Voprosy Teorii i Praktiki, 4(58): 51–55.

Bykova NO, 2021, Switching of Language Codes as a Characteristic of Polylinguality. Foreign Languages in the Context of Intercultural Communication: Reports of the XIIth All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference with International Participation, Saratov.

Ostapenko TS, 2014, The Formation of the Concept of “Code Switching”: an Interdisciplinary Approach. Socio-i Psiholingvisticheskie Issledovaniya, 2: 171–176.