March Blog

For this month’s bog, I have read an article called, “Codeswitching in Bilingual Children with Specific Language Impairment.”

In this article, the concept of code-switching was explored in depth. When it comes to children with a specific language impairment, code-switching can be used for a variety of reasons during conversation, some of which would be to facilitate conversation or to provide an expression that is better understood in the other language (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). It is quite the phenomenon used by bilinguals to express themselves with other bilinguals, and it is a method used to facilitate the flow of conversation. The article concluded that children with a specific language impairment are able to code-switch typically despite their impairment (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). This conclusion demonstrates that code-switching is indeed an exceptional capability that enables communication. 

Code-switching involves the combination of two languages in a syntactic way, where the main language is the matrix language while the other language is known as the embedded language(Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). In other words, we can see the bilingual’s first language used as the dominant language, and the language being added into the dominant language as the embedded language (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). In order to evaluate the code-switching and determine whether it is grammatically correct, the embedded language is examined to see if it’s being placed in the correct grammatical order (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). For instance, in the Spanish language the adjective is placed after the noun, not before; if an individual is code-switching grammatically correct, the adjective will be placed after the noun (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). According to the article, there is limited research on the code-switching utterances produced by children with a specific language impairment. Nevertheless, when it comes to word retrieval, children with a specific language impairment may code-switch to retrieve words during conversation (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). It was also stated that children with specific language disorder display atypical code-switching compared to children without this impairment, but their code-switching is also not drastically different from that of typically developing children (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). Comparisons were also made between typically developing adult literature and children with specific language impairment. It was concluded that at times there was no disordered code-switching present for children with specific language impairment (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). It was also observed that, though children with specific language impairment demonstrate grammatical deficits, they were able to mix both languages with typical code-switching behavior (Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). Therefore, children with specific language impairment should not be discouraged from code-switching, because they could be using this technique to further develop competence in both of their languages(Gutierrez-Clellen et. al., 2009). The use of code-switching in children with specific language impairment is beneficial, and should not be considered an impairment. Instead code-switching should be seen as a positive means of communication that is used by children with specific language impairment in both a typical and non-typical way. 

Gutiérrez-Clellen, V. F., Cereijido, G. S., & Leone, A. E. (2009). Codeswitching in Bilingual Children with Specific Language Impairment. The international journal of bilingualism : cross-disciplinary, cross-linguistic studies of language behavior, 13(1), 91–109.

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