This study investigates the reasons causing a rising number of Cairene mothers to code-switch into English when they speak to their children in public. Further exploration of the mothers’ attitude towards their children’s nascent bilingualism is pursued along with an attempt to identify the mothers’ perspectives on the phenomenon in question when manifested by other parents in their community. To this end, the researcher implemented a mixed methodological approach for data collection starting with a snowball sampling strategy for distribution of a questionnaire, and culminating with a number of follow-up semi-structured interviews of a selected group from the questionnaire participants. Ninety-two participants completed the questionnaire, and eight of them participated in a follow-up interview. Findings of this study show the most prominent reason causing the language behavior of code-switching to spread among Cairene mothers is an attempt to scaffold the child’s linguistic aptitude to prepare them for school. Furthermore, mothers associate fluency in English with a better socio-economic future for their children which justifies their use of English to promote their children’s early bilingualism. However, many of the mothers, despite engaging in this linguistic behavior themselves, have a tendency to perceive the act of code-switching into English in public as intentional to reflect social prestige. The perspectives and attitudes are highly affected by the speakers’ accent, pronunciation, the length of the utterance spoken in English and the context of occurrence. Perspectives are negative when the speakers’ accent and pronunciation are flawed, when the conversation is fully conducted in English or when the context does not require the use of a foreign language.


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2018

First Advisor

Plumlee, Marilyn

Committee Member 1

Bassiouney, Reem

Committee Member 2

Agameya, Amira


104 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


I would like to express my deepest appreciation for my thesis supervisor, Dr. Marilyn Plumlee, for her kind, constant support and unimaginable help with my thesis. She has given me the most thorough feedback I could get. She would listen and speak to me as though I was the only person in this world, and with this kindness and warmth, she was able to adjust my views and perspectives about many things in life beyond thesis-writing. I would also like to express my gratitude for my second reader, Dr. Reem Bassiouney, who did not only inspire my research topic, but also inspired in me the courage to see myself as a linguist, and not just another thesis-writer. I would also like to thank my third reader, Dr. Amira Agameya, for her true understanding, and genuine kindness. She will always be my idea of genius and grace. I do not think I will have enough space to express my appreciation and gratitude for Dr. Atta Gebril who did not only help me overcome my fears and nightmares at the beginning of this journey, but also showed incredible patience, and unfading support answering all my questions, and never turning me down. This thesis would not have been possible without the kind support and help of my colleagues Amira Salama, Eman El-Feky and Patricia Mrozek who went out of their way to get me in touch with more participants. To my sister, Gilan Hussein, for the many nights she spent baby-sitting my daughters, and never once complaining about it. To my brother-in-law, Ahmed Attia, for having my back, and helping me to see it through. To my parents, who stood by me through thick and thin. To my mum, Wafaa Bayomi, who has the biggest faith in me. To my dad, Hamdi Hussein, for his constant prayers. I hope I made you proud. To my daughters, Layla and Nadia, whose happy giggles and warm hugs gave me the strength to keep going. I could not have done this without your unconditional love.