Code-switching across different contexts by bilingual Colombian Spanish-English speakers: a case study

Sara Tafur, Isabelle Barriere

Code-switching is the use of words from two different languages while having a conversation (Heredia et al, 2001). Studies on code-switching have concluded that pragmatic competence is evident in bilinguals who code-switch, and these studies also suggest that bilinguals have grammatical knowledge in both of their languages (Heredia et al, 2001). This present study evaluates code-switching in Colombian Spanish-speaking and English speaking bilinguals, with a native Colombian spanish-speaking individual present during the evaluation. Colombian Spanish speaking bilinguals are being evaluated, because of the limited literature on code-switching involving specifically Colombian Spanish speaking bilingual children.The question driving this study is whether Colombian spanish-speaking bilinguals, who are proficient in both languages, will code-switch as a way to teach the native Colombian listener, who is less proficient in English, some vocabulary in English. The hypothesis is that these bilinguals will code-switch as a way to teach the other individual the correct pronunciation of the words to the listener. Another study concluded that code-switching is a positive method used by bilinguals to help strengthen the development of the weaker language (Yow., et al 2017). Perhaps the bilingual individuals in this study are aiding the listener in her development of the weaker language by using this same method. In order to research whether this method of code-switching is used by bilingual speakers to teach individuals who are less proficient in one of their languages some vocabulary in their weaker language, I will have the bilingual individuals listen to a story I wrote for a wordless picture book. After they have listened to the story, I will have the bilingual individuals retell the listener the story using both English and Spanish. The bilinguals will be recorded as they retell the story to the listener and I will evaluate whether they add emphasis to certain words, when the listener asks for the pronunciation.