code switching

Changing the way one speaks depending on the situation at hand. Within the Black community, some people speak differently with their friends than they do with their family. Some African Americans may use Standard English at work and the vernacular in familiar Black spaces. When Black people code switch, they are adjusting their speaking style to fit into a social context and to accommodate the speakers in that space. Code switching is a learned skill. It does not happen automatically. Youth from families where African American Language is the dominant language will enter school speaking African American Language. By the same token, youth from families where Standard English is the dominant language will enter school speaking Standard English. For either group, to master code switching requires dedicated, well-trained teachers and long-term experience and exposure to linguistic varieties other than the home language.


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