Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 8, pp 1629–1648 | Cite as

Profiles of Language Brokering Experiences and Contextual Stressors: Implications for Adolescent Outcomes in Mexican Immigrant Families

  • Su Yeong KimEmail author
  • Yang Hou
  • Jiaxiu Song
  • Seth J. Schwartz
  • Shanting Chen
  • Minyu Zhang
  • Krista M. Perreira
  • Deborah Parra-Medina
Empirical Research


Adolescents from Mexican immigrant families are often embedded in a challenging social environment and experience multiple contextual stressors, including economic stress, discrimination, and foreigner stress. We consider how the effects of these contextual stressors may be amplified or diminished for adolescents who function as language brokers, interpreting and mediating for their English-limited parents. Using two waves of survey data collected from a sample (N = 604 at Wave 1; N = 483 at Wave 2) of Mexican American adolescents with ages ranging from 11 to 15 (Mage = 12.41, 54% female), four distinct brokering—stress profiles were identified. Latent profile analyses revealed that with moderate levels of contextual stress, adolescents with more positive language brokering experiences (protective group) demonstrated more favorable outcomes than those with neutral language brokering experiences (moderate group) and those who did not involve themselves as frequently in language brokering activities (less-involved group). In contrast, high levels of contextual stress, coupled with more negative language brokering experiences (risk group), produced the least favorable outcomes among adolescents.


Language brokering Mexican American Economic stress Discrimination Foreigner stress 


Authors’ Contributions

S.Y.K. created the design of the study, conceived of the study and drafted portions of the manuscript; Y.H. performed the statistical analysis and drafted portions of the manuscript. J.S. drafted portions of the manuscript. S.J.S., S.C., M.Z., K.M.P., and D.P.M. provided critical review and editing of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


Support for this research was provided through awards to Su Yeong Kim from (1) National Science Foundation, Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, 1651128 and 0956123 (2) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 5R03HD060045-02 (3) College of Natural Sciences Catalyst Grant from the University of Texas at Austin (4) Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Grant and Special Research Grant from the University of Texas at Austin, and (5) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 2P2CHD042849-16 grant awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

Data Sharing Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family SciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Department of Public Health Sciences, Leonard M. Miller School of MedicineUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Social MedicineUniversity of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of MedicineChapel HillUSA
  4. 4.Department of Mexican American and Latina/o StudiesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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