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Language brokering in Mexican immigrant families living in the Midwest: A multiple case study

Alejandro Morales, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Language brokering is the action of translating and interpreting that children/adolescents in immigrant families' play for their parents, family members, teachers, neighbors, or other adults. This line of research is fairly new although language brokering has been a common role that children of immigrant families undertake when they arrive in the United States. The majority of the research has focused on the experiences of language brokers. The purpose of this in-depth multiple qualitative case study is to understand the role of language brokering in Mexican immigrant families living in the Midwest. Qualitative research is an ideal tool in multicultural counseling research, especially with underserved groups (e.g., immigrants), because it explains the experiences of individuals. In this study, six, two-parent Mexican immigrant families were recruited to participate. The families included both parents and a child who the parents identified as the primary translator/interpreter in the family. ^ Parents and child brokers were interviewed separately. Each family was asked to provide a sample document that their language broker usually translates. The child then translated this document to his/her parents and the researcher observed them. The data was analyzed case by case followed by a cross case analysis which revealed 5 themes that were salient among the six cases. The themes were (a) family relationships, (b) feelings about language brokering, (c) language brokering situations, (d) challenges of language brokering, and (e) qualities of language brokering. This study provided a good overview of the experiences of Mexican immigrant families who have children who translate and interpret for them. Implications for theory development, practice, public policy, and future research are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Education, Guidance and Counseling|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Language, General|Hispanic American Studies

Recommended Citation

Morales, Alejandro, "Language brokering in Mexican immigrant families living in the Midwest: A multiple case study" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3315052.