ISSN 1754-5366

The Development of Code-Switching in Early Second Language Acquisition


This paper presents some of the findings of a longitudinal study of two Chinese-speaking children who moved into an English speaking environment before the age of three. A combination of participant observation, parental diary, tape-recording of children’s speech and formal assessments was used to investigate various aspects of the children’s language, including phonology, vocabulary, morphosyntax, and conversation. The focus of the present paper is on the development of code-switching in relation to the children’s lexical and grammatical development. Information about the children’s overall language development will be given as background, where appropriate. We argue that in early second language acquisition, formulaic sequences play an important role and they dominate the earliest instances of code-switching in children’s speech. The “breakdown” of the formulaic sequences could be seen as the first sign of L1 attrition.

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