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Code-switching in young bilingual toddlers: A longitudinal, cross-language investigation

  • Erin Smolak (a1), Stephanie de Anda (a2), Bianka Enriquez (a3), Diane Poulin-Dubois (a4) and Margaret Friend (a5)...


Although there is a body of work investigating code-switching (alternation between two languages in production) in the preschool period, it largely relies on case studies or very small samples. The current work seeks to extend extant research by exploring the development of code-switching longitudinally from 31 to 39 months of age in two distinct groups of bilingual children: Spanish–English children in San Diego and French–English children in Montréal. In two studies, consistent with previous research, children code-switched more often between than within utterances and code-switched more content than function words. Additionally, children code-switched more from Spanish or French to English than the reverse. Importantly, the factors driving the rate of code-switching differed across samples such that exposure was the most important predictor of code-switching in Spanish–English children whereas proficiency was the more important predictor in French–English children.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Margaret Friend, Email:


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