Today in Advanced Grammar we discussed excerpts from Code-Switching: Teaching Standard English in Urban Classrooms by Rebecca S. Wheeler and Rachel Swords. As preparation, like always, students completed an online quiz prior to class where they reflected on the contrastive approach to grammar instruction, where teachers emphasize that choices are more or less formal rather than more or less correct.
To start off, we watched three YouTube videos:
- A child naturally switching between English, French, and Indonesian
- A short comedy sketch from Comedy Central’s Key and Peele
- A lyrics video for “Bailando,” which features English, Spanish, and the unique Jamaican dialect of Sean Paul
While Key and Peele got the most laughter, I love “Bailando” for the variety of switches it employs. The lyrics go from Gente de Zona singing completely in Spanish (“Me está enloqueciendo / Me va saturando”) to Enrique Iglesias singing in relatively formal standard English “Girl, I like the way you move”…and then there’s the hook:
I wanna be contigo
And live contigo, and dance contigo
Para have contigo
Una noche loca
With their intra-sentential switching, these lines demonstrate a seamless slide from English to Spanish. The song also has been commercially successful, holding onto a top 20 spot in the Billboard Top 100 and leading news outlets like NPR to wonder “How Did ‘Bailando’ Become a Spanglish Crossover Hit?”
Maybe it’s because so many of us code-switch so often?