The Familial Context of Adolescent Language Brokering Within Immigrant Chinese Families in Canada
- 960 Downloads
Language brokering, whereby children of immigrants provide informal translation and interpretation for others, is considered commonplace. However, the research evidence remains inconsistent concerning how language brokering relates to the psychological health of child language brokers and their relationships with their parents. Furthermore, few studies have examined the familial context as an explanation source. This study evaluated the moderating effects of adolescents’ support of family obligation values and their perceptions of parental psychological control on relationships between language brokering frequency and both adolescent psychological health and parent–child relationship quality. Adolescents from 182 immigrant Chinese families residing in Canada (average age 15 years, 52% females) reported the frequency with which they translated or interpreted various materials for their parents. More frequent language brokering was associated with poorer psychological health for adolescents who held strong family obligation values or who perceived parents as highly psychologically controlling. More frequent language brokering was also associated with more parent–child conflict. Contrary to some past findings, language brokering frequency was not significantly positively associated with self-esteem or with parent–child congruence (i.e., levels of understanding and satisfaction with parent–child relationships). The findings are discussed in relation to their support for theories of parent–child role reversals or independent-interdependent scripts in language brokering.
KeywordsLanguage brokering Chinese immigrant families Adolescents Psychological health Parent–child relationship
- Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the child behavior checklist/4–18 and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
- Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. London, England: Sage.Google Scholar
- Brown, B. B. (2004). Adolescents’ relationships with peers. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed., pp. 363–394). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Canadian Council of Social Development. (2001). Demographics of the Canadian population. Retrieved December 19, 2008, from http://www.ccsd.ca/factsheets/demographics/index.htm.
- Chao, R. K. (2006). The prevalence and consequences of adolescents’ language brokering for their immigrant parents. In M. H. Bornstein & L. R. Cote (Eds.), Acculturation and parent–child relationships: Measurement and development (pp. 271–296). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Chao, R. K., & Tseng, V. (2002). Parenting of Asians. In M. H. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting: Vol. 4. Social conditions and applied parenting (2nd ed., pp. 59–93). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Collins, W. A., & Laursen, B. (2004). Parent-adolescent relationships and influences. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (2nd ed., pp. 331–362). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Goossens, L. (2006). The many faces of adolescent autonomy: Parent-adolescent conflict, behavioral decision-making, and emotional distancing. In S. Jackson & L. Goossens (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent development (pp. 135–153). New York, NY: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Graber, J. A. (2004). Internalizing problems during adolescence. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (2nd ed., pp. 587–626). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Halgunseth, L. (2003). Language brokering: Positive developmental outcomes. In M. Coleman & L. Ganong (Eds.), Points and counterpoints: Controversial relationship and family issues in the 21st century: An anthology (pp. 154–156). Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.Google Scholar
- Hall, N., & Sham, S. (1998). Language brokering by Chinese children. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the British Educational Research Association, Dublin, Ireland.Google Scholar
- Harris, B., & Sherwood, B. (1978). Translating as an innate skill. In D. Gerver & H. W. Sinaiko (Eds.), Language interpretation and communication (pp. 155–170). New York, NY: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
- Ho, D. Y. F. (1981). Traditional patterns of socialization in Chinese society. Acta Psychologica Taiwanica, 23, 81–95.Google Scholar
- Jia, G. (2004). The acquisition of English and maintenance of first language by immigrant children and adolescents in North America. In U. P. Gilen & J. Roopnarine (Eds.), Childhood and adolescence: Cross-cultural perspectives and applications (pp. 350–373). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Kagitcibasi, C. (1990). Family and socialization in cross-cultural perspective: A model of change. In J. Berman (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation (pp. 135–200). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
- Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Trickett, E. J., Sorani, S., & Birman, D. (2010). Towards an ecology of the culture broker role: Past work and future directions. MediAzioni, 10. Retrieved from http://www.mediazioni.sitlec.unibo.it.
- Tse, L. (1996). Language brokering in linguistic minority communities: The case of Chinese– and Vietnamese–American students. The Bilingual Research Journal, 20, 485–498.Google Scholar
- Umana-Taylor, A. J. (2003). Language brokering as a stressor for immigrant children and their families. In M. Coleman & L. Ganong (Eds.), Points and counterpoints: Controversial relationship and family issues in the 21st century: An anthology (pp. 157–159). Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury.Google Scholar
- Wang, S., & Lo, L. (2004). Chinese immigrants in Canada: Their changing composition and economic performance. Policy Matter, No. 10, produced by the Joint Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement—Toronto (CERIS). Retrieved from http://www.metroplois.net.
- Ying, Y., Lee, P. A., & Tsai, J. L. (2004). Psychometric properties of the Intergenerational Congruence in Immigrant Families: Child Scale in Chinese Americans. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 35, 91–103.Google Scholar
- Yuang, X. (2000). Correlation between self-esteem and mental health of secondary normal school students. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 8, 102–103.Google Scholar