Developing evidence-based guidance on child language brokering in schools

Cline, Tony; Prokopiou, Evangelia and Crafter, Sarah (2014). Developing evidence-based guidance on child language brokering in schools. In: 2nd International Conference on Non-Professional Interpreting and Translation (NPIT2), 29-31 May 2014, Germersheim, Germany.


Increasing numbers of children and young people contribute to family life by acting as child language brokers (CLBs) for their parents. This often occurs because children learn the host country language faster than their parents. One of the contexts in which CLB frequently takes place is the school setting. Professionals, like teachers, have an ambivalent attitude towards using children as language brokers as few schools have access to professional interpreting facilities across the range of home languages spoken by their parents, and only limited use can be made of bilingual teaching and support staff for interpreting. A recent review of the literature (Cline et al, 2010) highlighted the lack of studies in the UK that have looked at teachers' professional perspectives on these activities or of the views of students who had undertaken CLB while at school about their experiences in that setting. Moreover, although there is some official support for using bilingual students as interpreters (QCA, 2008) there is no official guidance on the more common practice of using students to translate on behalf of families when the conversation with teachers is about their own, a sibling's, or peer's school-related matters. On that basis, our study collected data from teachers, and young adults who acted as language brokers in school as children (Ex-CLBs) to examine their perspectives and develop evidence-based guidance on this activity. Our survey and in-depth interviews asked questions about a wide variety of brokering issues such as frequency and purpose of the activity, discussions of sensitive issues, the advantages/disadvantages and personal recommendations. Our presentation describes the evidence-based guidance for using CLBs in school settings born out of this research study.

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