Code Switching

three women laughing together in a circle
Photo credit: Priscilla du Preezn on Unsplash

Code switching is just a fancy way to talk about the way we use language – one or more – ways of speaking and choice of words to connect and fit in. 

When I was kid I grew up in a very poor neighborhood with the kind of address that when you declare it, evokes knowing glances and assumptions I didn’t bother addressing.

This National Public Radio (United States Public Radio) blog post explains code switching using video of former US President Barack Obama in a US burger restaurant, American actress and singer Beyoncé playing pool and a young boy seamlessly switching between three languages and gives the reader and listener a sense of just how powerful and fluid code switching can be.

https://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/04/08/176064688/how-code-switching-explains-the-world

We recently completed a peer feedback assignment in a University of Massachusetts at Boston Instructional Design course that I’m taking this semster. As I completed a review, I noticed the highly polished and professional voice that one of my classmates used in her narration. When I mentioned this to her she told me, “oh yes, even my kids tell me that they know when Mommy is using her special professional voice when they listen”.

Knowingly or unknowingly, we regularly code switch- some more than others. How and when do you code switch? How has your ability to do this benefitted you professionally?

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