Young adult language brokers’ and teachers’ views of the advantages and disadvantages of brokering in school

Crafter, Sarah; Cline, Tony and Prokopiou, Evangelia (2017). Young adult language brokers’ and teachers’ views of the advantages and disadvantages of brokering in school. In: Weisskirch, Robert S. ed. Language Brokering in Immigrant Families: Theories and Context. Routledge, pp. 224–243.



Schools have been cited as one of the most frequent venues where children and young people act as language brokers (Angelelli, 2014; Tse, 1996). Whilst a number of studies have used school as the access point to gather data from child language brokers (CLBs), the ways in which school might offer particular contextual challenges has been given less attention. This chapter will report on a mixed-methods study involving teachers and young adults who had acted as CLBs while they were at school. We use data from an online survey of teachers (N=63) and young adult CLBs (N=25) and in-depth episodic interviews that look at teachers’ (N=12) and young adult language brokers (n=14), to examine their stances towards the advantages and disadvantages of students acting as language brokers in the school context. Our findings suggest both groups shared many opinions on key advantages and disadvantages, with the exception that CLBs placed more emphasis on prioritising family interests and highlighted improvements to both languages. Some of their comments focused on the immediate advantages (such as cost savings and flexible timing) and disadvantages (such as a greater risk of translation errors). Other comments focused on the longer term impact of experiences of language brokering at school, such as a growing sense of maturity and confidence, and feelings of pride in being able to help others. Teachers and CLBs discussed the potential problems that may arise if too much time is taken away from studies or if the same pupil is overused for translating activities. CLB activities left many in the sample feeling ‘gifted’ and ‘empowered’ but for the CLBs it could also be a cause for embarrassment. Overall, how the school handles the brokering experience influenced both the teachers’ and CLBs’ views of it.

Viewing alternatives

Download history

Item Actions