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01-05-2009 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 5/2009

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 5/2009

Chinese American Adolescents’ Perceptions of the Language Brokering Experience as a Sense of Burden and Sense of Efficacy

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 5/2009
Auteurs:
Nina H. Wu, Su Yeong Kim

Abstract

Children of immigrants who do translations and who interpret for others using their heritage language and English are known as language brokers. Although prior research suggests that children of immigrants’ perceptions of the language brokering experience vary greatly—from feeling a sense of efficacy to feeling a sense of burden—what remains unanswered in the literature is identification of the antecedents and processes that help to explain the varying psychological experience of language brokers. Using data from a two-wave prospective longitudinal study of 256 Chinese American adolescents, the present study tested potential mechanisms that may be responsible for adolescents’ perceptions of the language brokering experience as a sense or burden or sense of efficacy. The results demonstrate that adolescents’ Chinese orientation sets in motion a family process that is linked to variations in the perceptions of adolescents’ language brokering experience. Adolescents who are more Chinese oriented have a stronger sense of familial obligation, and these adolescents are more likely to perceive that they matter to their parents. Adolescents’ perceived sense of mattering to parents, in turn, is associated positively with a sense efficacy, and negatively with a sense of burden as language brokers. Those adolescents who are less Chinese oriented have a weaker sense of familial obligation, and these adolescents are more likely to feel a sense of alienation from their parents. Adolescents’ sense of perceived alienation from parents, in turn, is associated with a sense of burden as language brokers. Implications for developing interventions for children who act as language brokers for their parents are discussed.

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