International migration forces everyday more and more families to cope with a host of complex challenges as they must adapt to the demands of life in a new environment. Since children acquire language proficiency and adhere to new cultural norms at a more rapid pace than their parents, they often become the intermediaries between the cultural and linguistic divides that separate their families from the host culture. Such children, referred to as language brokers (LBers) in literature, translate the new language and interpret cultural practices for their parents, or assist them not only in daily crosscultural transactions (such as arranging medical appointments, filling out job applications, disputing phone bills and credit card charges, and dealing with schools and the legal system) but often in very critical situations as conveying medical diagnoses, or making decisions that may affect their entire family. Research demonstrates that about 90 percent of children from language minority families serve as LBers. However, data on the psychological and socioemotional outcomes of Language Brokering (LBing) – where the LBer is asked to negotiate between two adult parties in sensitive conditions – are very controversial. The present study accounts for some aspects of the relationships between family environments, emotional and behavioral adjustment in children and parents which favor or disfavor LBing. These cognitively demanding experiences may result in positive outcomes including the development of strong metalinguistic and interpersonal skills, academic self-efficacy and pride at being able to help out their families. In contrast, other studies have shown that LBing can have negative consequences in terms of stress and academic functioning, obligation, and socioemotional health, since it requires children to take on powerful adult-like roles, which can negatively affect identity development for them and disrupt parenting practices. As children become increasingly influential cultural agents on behalf of their families, parents may find themselves less authoritative and self-confident, family relations become strained due to role reversals between adults and children: this can lead to parental disempowerment, and, reversely, to children ‘parentification’.

Bambini immigrati e mediazione linguistica: il fenomeno del Child Language Brokering.

CAVALIERE, Flavia
2014

Abstract

International migration forces everyday more and more families to cope with a host of complex challenges as they must adapt to the demands of life in a new environment. Since children acquire language proficiency and adhere to new cultural norms at a more rapid pace than their parents, they often become the intermediaries between the cultural and linguistic divides that separate their families from the host culture. Such children, referred to as language brokers (LBers) in literature, translate the new language and interpret cultural practices for their parents, or assist them not only in daily crosscultural transactions (such as arranging medical appointments, filling out job applications, disputing phone bills and credit card charges, and dealing with schools and the legal system) but often in very critical situations as conveying medical diagnoses, or making decisions that may affect their entire family. Research demonstrates that about 90 percent of children from language minority families serve as LBers. However, data on the psychological and socioemotional outcomes of Language Brokering (LBing) – where the LBer is asked to negotiate between two adult parties in sensitive conditions – are very controversial. The present study accounts for some aspects of the relationships between family environments, emotional and behavioral adjustment in children and parents which favor or disfavor LBing. These cognitively demanding experiences may result in positive outcomes including the development of strong metalinguistic and interpersonal skills, academic self-efficacy and pride at being able to help out their families. In contrast, other studies have shown that LBing can have negative consequences in terms of stress and academic functioning, obligation, and socioemotional health, since it requires children to take on powerful adult-like roles, which can negatively affect identity development for them and disrupt parenting practices. As children become increasingly influential cultural agents on behalf of their families, parents may find themselves less authoritative and self-confident, family relations become strained due to role reversals between adults and children: this can lead to parental disempowerment, and, reversely, to children ‘parentification’.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/572313
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