In linguistics, code-switching is where individuals use a practice of alternating between two or more languages or varieties of language in the context of a single conversation. Linguistic code-switching is mostly used within bilingual and multilingual communities, and there are many reasons to use code-switching, such as the need to fit in with a group, force of habit, or conveying thoughts and concepts that might be easier to explain in a specific language.

Within the workplace, code-switching is the action of changing our behaviors, speech, dress, and mannerisms to conform to a different cultural norm depending on the context. Code-switching is commonly identified as the reason for people losing their identities or accommodating prejudices towards their social class, ethnicity, or religion. Code-switching is a way for some to communicate more productively with people who may not share their cultural background.


  • Harvard Business Review. The Costs of Code Switching provides an overview of the upsides, downsides, complexities, and nuisances of code switching, and what organizations can do about the complexities (article, 10 minutes).
  • Marris Adikwu. The Mental Health Costs of Code Switching provides more information about the stress, anxiety and frustration that results from code switching (article, 10 minutes).
  • NPR, Code Switch is a Weekly Podcast that covers a variety of topics related to code-switching (podcasts, generally 30-40 minutes each).