|Description||Code-switching is the mixing of two languages such that a word or phrase from one
language is substituted for a word or phrase from another language. A code-switch can occur at
different locations in a sentence or phrase. For example: sometimes I’ll start a sentence in
English y termino en español ‘Sometimes I’ll start a sentence in English and end in Spanish.’
(Poplack, 2013, p. 1).
This project examines Spanish-English intrasentential code-switches that occur at the
auxiliary phrase with the goal of investigating whether low-proficiency second-language (L2)
learners who are not code-switchers understand the difference between illicit and licit codeswitches.
Illicit refers to ungrammatical code-switches whereas licit refers to grammatical codeswitches.
More specifically, the objective of this project is to determine whether these two types
of intrasentential code-switches are processed differently as shown by different patterns of
reading times. The four conditions in this experiment compare sentences that are completely in
English, sentences completely in Spanish, sentences with illicit (at the phrasal boundary)
switches, and sentences with licit (between the auxiliary and the participle) switches.
The data collected shows that there are statistically significant differences in reading
times between the locations of the code-switch, indicating that students can distinguish between
the different code-switches. A peculiar finding, however, is that students took longer to process
the sentences in complete English than the sentences containing a code-switch, which might be
due to the surprisal effect. The findings of this study have meaningful applications in better
understanding bilingual cognition, especially as the bilingual population continues to grow in the