ERG SES G 09, Communities and Education
In Italy, there are more than 5 million foreign residents in the country (Caritas Migrantes 2016). Among this population are many children who migrated to or are born in Italy to foreign parents. Because of attendance in school and participation in out-of-school play, both of which require and enable Italian language fluency, children of migrant families often quickly learn Italian. While these children engage in Italian outside the home, they often communicate with their families in their language(s) of origin at home, rendering them bilingual or multilingual. With these children and adolescents’ linguistic and cultural proficiency both in Italian culture as well as their culture(s) of origin, they sometimes become language brokers (LB). A LB is a person from a migrant family who translates, interprets, mediates, etc. in a broad variety of situations for others who have a limited facility of the host language (Corona et al, 2012; Cline et al, 2014). A child language broker (CLB) is a child who occupies this role. Prevailing CLB research has concentrated on children functioning as language brokers in their families. Most existing CLB research focuses on the experiences of brokers translating or interpreting for older relatives, most frequently parents, and other adults (Antonini, 2011, 2015; Martinez et al, 2009). Studies have explored CLB’s experiences translating between their parents and public services such as government, healthcare, legal, and other social services (Chao, 2006; Ekiaka-Oblazamengo et al., 2014; Katz, 2014). The predominant research has examined how the occurrence of language brokering affects numerous dimensions of the parent-child relationship, including communication, role reversal, and conflict (Katz, 2014). The research has often scrutinized the shifts in power that may result when children act as mediators between their parents and speakers of the host language. These studies have concluded that children acting as language brokers, therefore cultural brokers, for their parents often render parents less dominant and children less dependent in the parent-child relationship.
Significantly less research, however, exists that focuses on children acting as language brokers in the classroom. In Italian schools, a shortage of resources is particularly demonstrated in the lack of language services being provided in the variety of languages represented by newly arriving migrant pupils. This often positions children as the providers of these services. This paper focuses on examining peer-to-peer and pupil-to-teacher language brokering in multicultural and multilingual classrooms. It specifically explores the experience of CLBs who simultaneously occupy the positions of pupil and translator in classrooms because of their fluency in Italian and their belongingness in the same linguistic community as non-Italian speaking new arrival classmates. Using a qualitative approach involving ethnographic participant observation, pupil’s autonomous reflection through journal entries, and interviews, this research is guided by the following research questions: Do CLBS reflect on their experience as brokers and if so, what are their thoughts/feelings on occupying the role of both pupil and translator between their peers and teachers in the classroom? What are non CLB’s perceptions of how live language brokering during class time impacts the dynamics of the classroom?
Antonini, R. (2011). “The invisible mediators: Child language brokering in Italy”. In G. Cortese (Ed.) Marginalized Identities in the Discourse of Justice: Reflections on Children's Rights, Monza: Casa Editrice Polimetrica, pp. 229-249. Antonini, R. (2015). “Unseen forms of interpreting: Child language brokering in Italy”. Cultus: The Journal of Intercultural Mediation and Communication, 1(1), pp.96-112 Caritas Migrantes (2016). Immigrazione Dossier Statistico 2016. XVI Rapporto. Edizioni Idos. Roma Chao, Ruth K. (2006). “The Prevalence and Consequences of Adolescents’ Language Brokering for their migrant Parents.” Pp. 271–96 in Acculturation and Parent-Child Relationships: Measurement and Development, edited by M. Bornstein and L. R. Cote. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Cline, T., Crafter, S., & Prokopiou, E. (2014). Child Language Brokering in School: Final Research Report. [Report] Corona, R., Stevens, L. F., Halfond, R. W., Shaffer, C. M., Reid-Quinones, K., & Gonzalez, T. (2012). A qualitative analysis of what Latino parents and adolescents think and feel about language brokering. Journal of Child & Family Studies, 21, 788- 798. Ekiaka-Oblazamengo, J., Medina-Jiménez, M., Ekiaka Nzai, V. (2014): Language Brokering Affects Bilingual Children Parents' Acculturation Processes in South Texas. In: International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 4(3), S.9 – 20. Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (1995). Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Katz, V. (2014). Children as Brokers of Their migrant Families’ Health-Care Connections. Social Problems, 61(2), 194-215. Martinez, C., McClure, H., Eddy, J. (2009). Language Brokering Contexts and Behavioral and Emotional Adjustment among Latino Parents and Adolescents. The Journal of early adolescence. 29(1), 71-98. Morales, A. and Hanson, W. E. (2005). Language brokering: an integrative review of the literature. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 27(4), 471 - 503.
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