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.
Christoffersen, Katherine O’Donnell. “DOES CHILD CODE-SWITCHING DEMONSTRATE COMMUNICATIVE COMPETENCE?: A COMPARISON OF SIMULTANEOUS AND SEQUENTIAL BILINGUALS.” Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, vol. 21, 0, 2014, pp. 20–40.
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Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching