Code-Switching and Language Proficiency in Bilingual Children with and Without Developmental Language Disorder.

Published In

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research : JSLHR

Document Type


Publication Date



Purpose This study examined the frequency of code-switching by Spanish-English-speaking children as a function of language proficiency in each language and diagnosis (developmental language disorder [DLD] or typical language development [TLD]). Method Sixty-two Spanish-English-speaking children, 5-7 years of age, participated in this study (24 with DLD and 38 with TLD). Language samples were used to determine the level of language proficiency in each language as a continuum of performance. Correlational analyses were conducted to evaluate the relationship between Spanish and English language proficiency and the frequency of code-switching considering the total number of code-switched words, intrasentential code-switching (i.e., number of sentences/C-units with code-switched parts), and intersentential code-switching (i.e., code-switched sentences/C-units). Negative binomial and zero-inflated Poisson regressions were conducted to evaluate whether the frequency of code-switched words, code-switched parts, and code-switched sentences is different across children with DLD and their peers with TLD, controlling for Spanish and English proficiency. Results When Spanish was the target language, lower proficiency in Spanish was associated with higher frequency of code-switches to English for the group with DLD, but not for their peers with TLD who code-switched to English regardless of their Spanish and English proficiency. There were no statistically significant effects of diagnosis on the frequency of code-switches. Conclusion Results indicate that code-switching occurs similarly across children with DLD and their peers with TLD; therefore, the frequency and type of code-switches should not be used as an indicator of DLD.


Copyright © 2021 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association



Persistent Identifier