Writing and Language Studies Faculty Publications and Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



Over the past four decades, code-switching (CS) has been established as a mark of high linguistic competence among adult simultaneous (2L1) bilinguals, those who acquired two ‘first’ languages before age three. The status of CS among second language (L2) learners, who learned one language after age three, is much less clear; children represent an especially understudied population in this line of inquiry. This study aims to address this research gap and presents a comparison of child 2L1 bilinguals and child L2 learners in kindergarten, first and second grade of a Spanish immersion program. Twelve hours of recorded spontaneous classroom speech were analyzed for grammatical categories, switch points, and conversational strategies of CS. The results of this study show that the grammatical patterns and conversational strategies of child L2 learner CS strongly parallel those of 2L1 child bilinguals, pointing toward a high level of linguistic competence. Based on these findings, it is suggested that proficiency rather than language background may be a greater factor in CS patterns. Furthermore, evidence of the strategic use of CS by 2L1 and L2 learners alike suggests the potential benefit of an alternative bilingual pedagogy, which normalizes the use of CS as a linguistic resource instead of the more commonly evoked ‘deficit perspective’ on L2 learner CS.


Original published version available at https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/AZSLAT/article/view/21214

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

First Page


Last Page


Publication Title

Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.