Document Type


Publication Date



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.


Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  • Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
  • Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
  • Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).