University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. Judy Sharkey, UNH Department of Education
Immigrants' Perspectives on Their Experiences Serving As Language Brokers for Their Families
Recent demographic changes in the United States have resulted in increased cultural and linguistic diversity, particularly in the K-12 public school population. However, the diversity of the public service workforce does not reflect this change; many communities lack trained and/or licensed bilingual professionals. Consequently, immigrant youth whose English language proficiency is often better than their parents/caregivers are being used as interpreters to help their family members in a range of contexts from consultations in schools to visits at doctors’ offices and more. Some cities and districts have created guidelines and policies restricting the use of youth as interpreters due to concerns regarding the effects of this work on children. However, to date nothing exists in New Hampshire, a state with an increasing amount of diversity. If policies and practices regarding the role of immigrant youth in the role of translator/interpreter were to be developed in the Granite state, stakeholders would benefit from an understanding of the perspectives of young adult participants who have served as interpreters for their families. With this in mind, a study will be conducted on the perspectives of New Hampshire immigrant young adults on the benefits and challenges of their childhood experiences as language brokers using focus groups. Insights gained from the study could help New Hampshire’s growing immigrant population and the professionals who serve them.