February’s Blog

Code-switching is a tool used to aid bilingual individuals in a learning environment when they communicate with other individuals who are also bilingual. In learning environments where two or more languages are spoken, the use of code-switching can facilitate communication between students. However, it is important to note that teachers can also use code-switching during class, while educating bilingual individuals.  A study was conducted on code- switching involving teachers in an article known as, Code-switching: A useful foreign language Teaching Tool in EFL classrooms by Bhatti et. al. In this study, one is able to see the importance of code-switching as a language tool being used in educational environments (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). The teachers who participated in the study would switch to Urdu, and they were described as native speakers of Urdu (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). The students who were present during the teacher’s lectures were also described as native speakers of Urdu (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). This study shone some light on the types of code-switching used by the teachers, and how this affected the students. It was also evident through the study that the use of code-switching by the teachers was beneficial (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.).

         The teacher’s lectures were recorded in order to evaluate the type of code-switching they were using, and also to determine its function in the utterances (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). Researchers were able to discover in their recordings that the teachers used Tag-Switching, Inter-Sentential Switching, and Intra-Sentential Switching (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). Some of the tags observed in the recording were “theekh,” “Gee,” and “beta” (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). In the study, it was concluded that these tags promoted the relationship between students and teachers; however, they were not used for educational purposes (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). These tags were used in a social level rather than an academic level (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). The use of Inter-Sentential Switching by the teachers did have an educational purpose, because these switches were used to bring forth clarification through explanation (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). Lastly, the use of Intra-Sentential Switching also had an educational purpose, because theses switches were used to explain different ideas and concepts in the student’s native language (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). These different switches served a purpose in the teacher’s communication with the students, and they allowed for the children to comprehend the message in both of their languages. The use of code-switching had two functions in this study, the functions were known as methodological function and social function (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). The methodological function played the role of translation and explanation for the students (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). Whereas the social function played the role of social communication with the students (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.).

         It was concluded that code-switching was used by the teachers as a useful teaching tool in the educational environment (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). Code-switching was used for a variety of reasons in this study, and it proved to be a powerful tool for educators. It was evident through the study that code-switching served as a means to translate harder topics, bring clarity, and promote social relationships (Bhatti, Aisha, et al.). Though more research in this area can be beneficial, one can see through the study that code-switching can aid in the understanding of communication between students and teachers.

Bhatti, Aisha, et al. Code-Switching: A Useful Foreign Language Teaching Tool in EFL Classrooms . 2018, https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1179229.pdf. 

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. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367006909103530

Code-switching as a marker of linguistic competence in bilingual children (October Entry)

Code-switching is quite the extraordinary method that is used by bilinguals when engaging in conversation with other bilinguals. It is a topic of much research, where researchers are furthering their knowledge on this phenomenon. Some studies have been made on adult’s code-switching, but the debate lies in the area of children’s code-switching and whether it affects the child’s linguistic competency. In the article, Code-switching as a marker of linguistic competence in bilingual children by Yow et.al, we follow researchers as they find answers to the question of whether code-switching affects the child’s linguistic competence. In this study, the researchers choose a total of 55 English/Mandarin bilingual children, which they evaluated during preschool activities for a total of three hours every day, the children were around the ages of 5 and 6 (Yow., et al 1). After six months, they had teachers who were efficient in both English and Mandarin evaluate the children’s language competence in both languages (Yow., et al 1). This research seeks to provide more answers, and even included the conclusions of other studies which looked to answer the question of whether code-switching affects a child’s linguistic competence.

             There have been researchers that have concluded that code-switching is a result of the child’s limited lexical grammatical and pragmatic competence in both languages, causing them to code-switch to make up for what they do not understand in one language (Yow., et al 2). One study stated that some children have lexical gaps, so they code-switch to express themselves and fill in these gaps (Yow., et al 2).  Other studies contradicted the previous studies by stating in the article that just because children code switch, this does not indicate that they cannot differentiate between both of their languages (Yow., et al 2). Instead, they are able to differentiate between both of their language systems which is why they produce the code-switching grammatically correct when they are speaking. It is also shown in the article, that numerous studies have concluded that bilingual children are more than capable of code switching according to the situation, showing their pragmatic competence (Yow., et al 3). This goes to show that code-switching does not limit a child’s ability to communicate socially, instead they know when it is appropriate to code-switch. An indicator that code-switching is not a limitation on the child’s pragmatic language abilities.  

            In the study at hand, researchers attained their language samples from preschools, where they gathered children’s spontaneous speech in order to evaluate their code-switching (Yow., et al 3). In this particular study, the students being evaluated were simultaneous bilinguals, meaning they acquired both languages in the same span of time before the age of 5 (Yow., et al 3). As the study proceeded, the researchers found that in this population, children who code-switched the most were more likely to have a vast number of Mandarin words in their repertoire, which was unique, since these bilinguals were less dominant in the Mandarin language and more dominant in the English language (Yow., et al 10). The English language competency on the other hand, did not have much to do with the number of code-switched utterances, which proves recent studies stating that language incompetency is not a result of code-switching (Yow., et al 10). Instead, code-switching is a positive method, used by the child to communicate with others effectively. Children can also be using code-switching as a means to help them strengthen the development of their weaker language (Yow., et al 10). The study concluded that code-switching is actually beneficial, and it aids in the language development of bilingual children (Yow., et al 12). Code-switching does not impose limitations, instead it helps a child advance their language development in both languages. Studies such as these provide us with the necessary information in children’s language development, especially that of bilingual children’s language development. Further understanding bilingual children and their ways of communication can help us differentiate between whether the child has a disorder or just a different means of communication, such as code-switching.  

Works Cited

YOW, W. QUIN, et al. “Code-Switching as a Marker of Linguistic Competence in Bilingual Children.” Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, vol. 21, no. 5, 2017, pp. 1075–1090., https://doi.org/10.1017/s1366728917000335.