Code-Switching Among Heritage Spanish Speakers
Attitudes, Practices, and Pedagogical Implications
Keywords:code-switching, bilingualism, heritage Spanish speakers, language attitudes, linguistic identity
Code-switching is perhaps one of the most salient linguistic practices among Spanish-English bilinguals in the U.S., and therefore widely investigated. (Bailey 2000; Kern 2019; Lipski 2014). While code-switching is typically associated with bilinguals who are highly proficient in two languages (Balukas & Koops 2014; Benevento & Dietrich 2015; Poplack 1980; Rangel et al. 2015), it is crucial to also highlight the code-switching practices of bilinguals who may have unequal levels of proficiency in each language, such as in the case of some heritage language (HL) learners. The present study examines socio-pragmatic functions of code-switching among heritage learners of Spanish. Using data from questionnaires and interviews, this study looks at instances of and attitudes towards code-switching. Findings indicate that code-switching was generally viewed favorably among participants, and commonly practiced by most of the participants in a variety of social contexts. Interview data also suggests that code-switching serves various socio-pragmatic functions for participants. Given the double stigma attached to both code-switching (Rangel et. al 2015) and to Spanish in the U.S. (Showstack 2012)—which often informs HL pedagogy—it is crucial to examine this linguistic practice in the context of HL learners in the U.S. in order to give code-switching a more prominent place and offer further legitimization of this practice, both in and outside the classroom.
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