Psycho-Educational Research Reviews

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Psycho-Educational Research Reviews | Vol. 9, No. 3 
London Academic Publishing, December 2020, pp 70

The present study is aim to how bilingual children 
used another language as well as their mother tongue was 
explained on the basis of Bernstein's code theory. For this 
purpose, spontaneously bilingual children were examined in 
their natural environment and explained according to the 
Berstein’s code theory. It also emphasized the importance of 
bilingualism at an early age. In this study, a case study as one 
of the qualitative research methods was used. Two bilingual 
children were observed and the observations obtained were 
noted by researcher. The code switching in between two 
children was examined and comapred according to the theory 
explained in the literature. According to the findings of the 
research one of the examples shows the positive effect of the 
use of code switching and the other shows the negative effect. 
The results of research has shown that the use of code switching, 
that is, allowing language switching, has a supporting role in 
children's acquisition of a new language.
Code theory, multilingualism, early childhood, 
emergent bilingualism, native language acquisition 
Şule Kavak PhD 
Assistant Professor 
Department of Early Childhood Education 
Hasan Kalyoncu University
ORCID 0000-0003-2753-3977 
Ebru Deretarla Gül PhD 
Associate Professor 
Department of Early Childhood Education
Çukurova University 
ORCID 0000-0002-6241-8109 

Psycho-Educational Research Reviews | Vol. 9, No. 3 (December 2020) 
It is estimated that about one-fifth of the world's 
population is bilingual or multi-lingual (Yıldırım, 
2016; Diamond, 2009). In recent years, the 
number of multicultural and multilingual people in 
America has begun to increase (Brice & Anderson, 
1999). For example in the United States, the 
number of Spanish-speaking students has 
increased (Pollard, 2002). Like this A few 
languages spoken and understood in America 
began to spread in small-scale traditional societies. 
Likewise, in Turkey, the number of bilingual 
children has been increasing in recent years. These 
changes have led to new problems in the dominant 
language environment. The lack of an appropriate 
environment and school environment for children 
to use both languages has led to an inability to 
understand the language used, and as a result it has 
been misinterpreted by teachers and the 
There have been many definitions of bilingualism 
in literature. In general, bilingualism is the ability 
to express one's self easily and smoothly on two 
languages (Purcell, Lee, Biffin, et al., 2012). 
People often become bilingual because they need 
it in their daily lives. There is no need to be 
perfectly fluent in two languages, but the 
important thing is to have a dominant language and 
to be able to express oneself in both languages (Url 
1). Bilingualism is divided into two as 

Simultaneous acquisition occurs when a 
child learns two languages at the same 
time. It consists of 3 stages. In the first 
stage, the child mixes two languages in a 
single system. In the second stage, they 
begin to separate words in each language 
from each other and understand which 
person speaks which language. In the 
third stage, a language is spoken more 
often than others, and it becomes more 
dominant depending on the frequency of 
use. Simultaneous language acquisition 
can be obtained in two ways. One 
person, one of the parents, or one of the 
family members uses one language 
another language. In the other model, 
parents or family members support by 
speaking both
languages (Purcell, Lee, Biffin, et al., 

Sequential acquisition is learning the 
second language after the first. This is a 
3-step process. In the first stage the child 
observes the second language speakers, 
at this stage s/he may remain silent, 
communicate by pointing and then the 
child starts to trust the sentence memory. 
In the second stage, the child 
communicates in the second language 
and begins to form his own sentences. In 
the third stage, he begins to speak using 
correct words, correct grammar, and 
correct pronunciation. When languages 
are learned sequentially, understanding 
the first language rules supports the 
development of the second language 
(Purcell, Lee, Biffin, et al., 2012). 
Bilingual children’s language acquisition and use 
processes are different from monolingual children.
In this process, if the right support and 
environment is not provided to children, it may 
have many negative consequences. Children who 
just start using two languages, frequently switch 
between languages, namely code switching, by 
using words from both languages together. These 
transitions are seen as an important part of the 
language acquisition process. Richard Skiba says 
that code switching can be seen as an extension of 
the language for bilingual speakers (Skiba, 1997). 
Bilingual children have the ability to speak in both 
languages at different levels. While speaking a 
language, being fed by another language is an 
important process for bilingual language 
development. When two languages are spoken, 
reasoning and concept formation are better 
developed and advanced language skills such as 
code switching, accents, and syntax are obtained 
(Doron, 2014). At the end of age 3, the average 
bilingual children use two words for most 
concepts, thus gaining more experience of 
switching between languages (Crivello et al., 
Code switching is something that bilingual 
individuals often do in environments where both 
languages are spoken. Code switching is defined 
as an alternation of two languages in a single 
discourse (Pollard, 2002). Child switches to 
another language while speaking fluently without 

Psycho-Educational Research Reviews | Vol. 9, No. 3 (December 2020) 
any hesitation. In this study, the role of code 
switching in two languages (both English and 
Turkish usage in the same discourse) was 
examined. The situations where bilingual students 
have code switching, its effects and whether it 
provides language freedom were explained on 
case studies.
In this study, how bilingual children used another 
language as well as their mother tongue was 
explained on the basis of Bernstein's code theory. 
The purpose of the research is to find out the role 
of code switching (both in English and Turkish use 
in the same discourse) children have while using 
two languages acquired in natural environments. 
The situations where bilingual students have code 
switching, its effects and whether it provides 
language freedom or not were explained on case 
studies. In addition, this study also showed how 
the use of code switching affects the examples in 
the case studies positively (the transition between 
communication) and the negative (not allowed and 
not understood) effects. It also emphasized the 
importance of bilingualism at an early age. For this 
purpose, the following questions were asked; 
1. Does bilingualism have any advantages and 
disadvantages? What are they? 
2. What is code switching? What are its positive 
and negative effects? 
3. When, why and how is code switching be used? 
With the impact of globalization, bilingualism and 
multiculturalism have begun to spread to most 
countries in the World. The rapid progress of 
technological developments and the increase in 
scientific research have made it necessary to use a 
second language nowadays. In addition, the 
children of immigrant families had to be bilingual. 
The new generation has been exposed to a second 
language even if we do not want it. However, the 
acquisition and use of a second language, the 
processes of language acquisition, and critical age 
periods have been the topic of controversy for 
many years. These debates have led to many 
definitions of bilingualism that have brought many 
Recently, many studies have shown that the 
critical age in the acquisition of a second language 
is three years old, and learning another language at 
an early age provides many advantages for the 
child. However, the answers to many questions 
such as what kind of way should be pursued in this 
process, whether there should be a dominant 
language, whether other languages should be 
learned after the mother tongue is taught, how the 
language systems work and whether another 
language is based on mother tongue system has 
become important for teachers, researchers and 
especially for parents. 
When learning a second language, children’s 
mixing it with their mother tongue and their use of 
words from other languages in the same sentences 
creates worries in the environment if learning 
another language affects the use of mother tongue 
negatively. However, all these processes are 
normal for individuals learning a new language. 
The results of this research inform interested 
people as a strategy to help learning if bilingual 
students are allowed to use code switching. It also 
brings a new perspective to the misconception that 
children who change countries as a result of 
immigration fail in academically due to language 
inadequacy, and in this sense this research is a 
guide for parents and teachers of bilingual 
children. Besides, it highlights the importance of 
using a language other than mother tongue in early 
The view that bilingual children are slower, 
disadvantaged and have less vocabulary rather 
than monolinguals until the 1960s has been 
changed by Peal and Lambert's (1962) study, and 
it was found out that bilingualism provides a 
cognitive advantage than monolingualism. In 
recent years, many variables have been researched 
in the studies. Accordingly, it has been found that 
even though bilingual and monolingual children 
have similarities in language acquisition process 
and cognitive domains, bilinguals have large 

Psycho-Educational Research Reviews | Vol. 9, No. 3 (December 2020) 
differences. One of them is selective attention in 
the prefrontal cortex developed in the first 5 years 
(Diamond, 2010). 
Many studies have shown that cognitive processes 
are predominantly dependent on linguistic skills 
(Bialystok, Craik, 2009). As a result of the 
researches carried out, bilingual children were 
found to be more successful than monolingual 
children in the cognitive concession of linguistic 
processes. Accordingly, the fact that bilinguals 
have two or more words for an object or a concept 
allows them to look at events from a different 
perspective. As a result, it has been seen that the 
bilinguals are individuals with creative, open-
minded, flexible, imaginative and high language 
skills (Backer, 2001, p.148). 
In Kovács and Mehler's (2009) study of bilingual 
babies, bilinguals were found to be easier to adapt 
to changes than monolinguals. In addition, it was 
found that bilingual babies have more vocabulary 
in both languages compared to their monolingual 
peers (Crivello, Kuzyk, Rodrigues, Friend, 
Zesiger, Poulin-Dubois, 2016). According to 
Poulin-Dubois (2016), as children age and their 
vocabulary grow, the switching from one to the 
other language accelerates and these switching 
become more frequent. For this reason, bilingual 
children exhibit a more flexible posture in solving 
complicated problems and are more selective and 
focused on problem-solving skills (Desjardins, 
There are still some false misconceptions about 
children who learn two languages. Cognitive 
flexibility develops better in bilinguals, for 
example, in contrast to the idea that two languages 
mix people's minds. The bilinguals can see events 
from two or more perspectives and understand 
better how other people think (Hakuta, 1986). 
Moreover, bilinguals have better auditory 
language skills, such as being able to distinguish 
the sounds of a language, and are more sensitive 
than monolinguals. In addition, they matures 
earlier than monolinguals in terms of language 
abstraction, such as talking and thinking about 
language, (Albert and Obler, 1978, Cummins, 
Cummins argues that the higher linguistic 
awareness of bilinguals is due to the fact that since 
bilinguals acquire two languages and two cultures 
rather than monolinguals, they have a much 
broader and diverse experiences, and take places 
with cognitive advantages such as more flexible 
structuring of thoughts as they have switching 
(Cummins, 1976, 2001c). According to Reynolds 
(1991), bilinguals are more capable of adapting to 
the changing environment due to their separate 
language environments and their experience of the 
social and cultural environments of these 
languages. The fact that bilinguals have two or 
more words for a single object or concept allows 
them to look at events from a different perspective, 
that is, bilingual children are more successful in 
cognitive control of linguistic processes than 
monolingual children. Bialystok (2017) says, 
bilingualism can shape brain structure and 
cognitive ability. Likewise Al-Amri (2013) also 
talked about the positive effects of bilingualism. 
The benefits of bilingualism affect not only 
professional life but also social life. The brains of 
bilingual individuals have two active language 
systems, regardless of what the preferred language 
is. So the cognitive muscles of the brain always 
work. While other people need extra effort and a 
sharp mind to solve difficult and complex 
problems, this is simpler for bilinguals. Bilinguals 
can think of each object or thought with two or 
more words and phrases, and these talents 
reinforce their creativity (Doron, 2014). A number 
of studies have shown that early childhood 
language acquisition supports children positively 
in terms of cognitive, social and linguistic thinking 
According to Doron (2014), the benefits of 
bilingualism for children are explained as follows: 

Children acquire skills in new 
vocabulary and voices as they are 
exposed to extensive language input. 

They easily separate words in unified 

Categorizing the words comes natural to 

Psycho-Educational Research Reviews | Vol. 9, No. 3 (December 2020) 

The answers are at equal speed in both 

Rhymed words are easier to perceive. 

Bilingual children better understand 
patterns and patterns even at early ages. 
Contrary to all these benefits, there are also studies 
that think bilingualism has negative effects. For 
example many studies have emerged to support the 
claims that bilingualism had negative effects on 
intelligence and cognitive ability. The results of 
such studies led the researchers to claim that 
bilingualism is a mental burden for bilingual 
children causing them uncertain and confused 
(McLaughlin, 1978; Saunders, 1988). Carroll 
(1968) reported in his study that bilingualism 
encourages facile and superficial mental attitudes. 
In addition, Carrow (1957) in Appel & Muysken 
(2005) found that monolingual children in silent 
comprehension, spelling, hearing, articulatory 
skills, vocabulary, and arithmetic reasoning better 
than bilinguals. A few researchers also believed 
that bilingualism could impair the intelligence of a 
whole ethnic group and can be seen as something 
unnatural (Weisgerber, 1933; Saunders, 1988). 
Another area of bilingualism and brain research is 
how bilingual individuals’ languages are 
represented in their minds. At this point, the 
question “Are these representations are 
independent of each other or are there 
dependencies between them have gained 
importance (Baker, 2001c: 143). Researchers such 
as Fabbro (2002) used techniques such as PET and 
FMRI to investigate the language arrangement in 
the brains of bilinguals; they have examined 
linguistic stimuli such as word processing, 
sentence processing and short story processing, 
and attempted to reveal linguistic processing in 
bilingual individuals. Accordingly, the word 
information of D1 and D2 is represented in the 
same brain areas regardless of the acquisition age 
of the person. However, the words of D1 and D2 
acquired after the critical age are stored in the 
notification memory systems in the left cerebral 
associative memory areas serving language 
functions. When examining the cerebral areas 
activated by bilinguals in early ages and older ages 
with two languages during sentence processing 
tasks in D1 and D2, it has been observed that in 
both languages, the bilinguals display the same 
activation in Wernicke and Broca areas at early 
ages; there are important differences between D1 
and D2 in bilinguals in late ages when activating 
in Broca's field. Also, in late years, bilinguals have 
been identified to have two distinct, but 
contiguous, centers in the left Broca areas
Figure 1. In these figures D1 is ‘yellow-red’, D2 is ‘blue’ D3 is ‘green’ 

Psycho-Educational Research Reviews | Vol. 9, No. 3 (December 2020) 
As seen in Figure 1, if the second language is 
acquired at an early age, the density increases in 
the same place (especially in Broca's area).
However, if it is acquired later (Figure 2), it is seen 
that new network structures are formed and 
language acquisition is divided and different 
sections in the head assume this function. 
Figure 2. There are three different notations as indicated above (1), (2), (3) 
The first of these representations are between the 
ages of 0-2, the second between the 2-adolescence 
period, and the third the adult formations. As can 
be seen, brain cells are less connected to each other 
in language learning as the individual’s age 
progresses (Url 2). 
Sociolinguists examine the way bilinguals switch 
from one language to another and their behaviors 
in the social context. In all societies there is a large 
verbal repertoire with different languages, 
different dialects and different styles (more or less 
formal). According to Bernstein’s code theory, 
students develop values within the culture of the 
school through contradictory and paradoxical 
practices - external global market forces and 
pedagogies are becoming more market-oriented, 
yet traditional social hierarchies, social values and 
traditional rituals and practices are being retained, 
creating oppositional discourses within the school 
culture (Bernstein, 2000). The varieties of 
languages are chosen from this repertoire based on 
the characteristics of the social context according 
to the nature of the talk and the formality of the 
situation. The style change exists in all English-
speaking societies. For example; someone can 
speak stupid or more ridiculous or less ridiculous 
depending on the spoken person, the spoken 
subject, the situation and the situation desired to be 
created. Some English-speaking societies have 
two dialects with different styles as well as 
multiple dialects (Mcarthur, 1998). 
When the children in the two language acquisition 
process start talking, they usually use the items 
belonging to two languages in the same word or 
conversation flow. This behavior has been termed 
by many researchers as mechanism mixing or 
assembly shifting (Ekmekci, 1993). The items of 
the two languages used in the conversation can 
belong to the sound, word, or linguistic construct. 
The most frequently encountered mixing 
mechanism in children is the use of some words in 
the other language while using a language. The 
fact that children’s mixing two languages with 
each other has been interpreted as that the 
presentations of the two languages are not 
separated neuro-cognitively (Geneese, 2002, Akt. 
Bakırlı, 2008). 
Code switching is defined as the combination of 
two languages in a single discourse, and using 
them alternatively in a sequence (Bhatt, 1997; 
Brice & Anderson, 1999). Code switching is made 
within sentence boundaries and different 
languages are used in the sentence. Words and 
phrases from two languages are contained in a 
single sentence (Brice & Anderson, 1999). Code 
switching involves the use of two or more 

Psycho-Educational Research Reviews | Vol. 9, No. 3 (December 2020) 
languages at any level (Myers-Scotton, 2009). 
Code switching is a linguistic behavior involving 
both the perceiving of the language 
(understanding) and the production of language. 
Issues of interest include brain and speech 
difficulty as well as mental dictionary (Wang & 
Liu, 2013). Crivello (2016) says that language 
switching provides an advantage for bilinguals in 
conflicts. In conflict situations, the child ignores 
certain information. This shows the experience of 
switching between languages, for example to use 
the second word even if it is easier to reach the first 
Interest in code switching studies began with 
Epinosa’s (1917) writing on “speech mix" in the 
discourses of new Mexicans in the 21st century 
(Huerta-Macias, 1983). Code switching has been 
something that has been happening in America's 
classrooms over the last 20 years. Hammink 
(2000) defines code switching as; Language 
poverty, low prestige, biased use and inadequacy 
in both languages. On the contrary, Pollard (2002) 
supported the use of code switching in bilingual 
classrooms as a strategy that made communication 
more effective. Code switching is one of the most 
used communication methods among foreign 
language learners (Burenhult, 1999). These 
children do not denote code switching negatively, 
but instead view it as a means to transmit 
information more effectively. 
Code switching not only serves to improve 
communication in the learning-teaching process, 
but also helps bilinguals to maintain and develop 
their languages. This code switching is used to 
"identify, to emphasize, to elaborate the receiver, 
in short, to effective communication" (Macias, 
1983). For the speakaer, using code switching in 
the language he feels more comfortable can 
alleviate language insecurity (Burenhult, 1999). 
Code switching is the term at least two languages 
combined in different forms are spoken at different 
levels. For example, as in the bilinguals of 
Malaysia and English. 

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