skip to main content

Title: Profiles of Language Brokering Experiences and Contextual Stressors: Implications for Adolescent Outcomes in Mexican Immigrant Families
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.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    We advance a tripartite framework of language use to encompass language skills, the practice of language skills, and the subjective experiences associated with language use among Mexican-origin adolescents who function as language brokers by translating and interpreting for their English-limited parents. Using data collected over 2 waves from a sample of 604 adolescents (Wave 1: Mage = 12.41, SD = 0.97), this study identified 4 types of bilingual language broker profiles that capture the tripartite framework of language use: efficacious, moderate, ambivalent, and nonchalant. All 4 profiles emerged across waves and brokering recipients (i.e., mothers, fathers), except for Wave 1 brokering for mother, in which case only 3 profiles (i.e., efficacious, moderate, and ambivalent) emerged. Three profiles emerged across time: stable efficacious, stable moderate, and other. The efficacious and stable efficacious profiles showed the most consistent relation to adolescents' academic competence. Improving bilingual language proficiency, together with fostering more frequently positive brokering experiences, may be an avenue to improving academic competence among Mexican-origin adolescents in the United States. 
    more » « less
  2. Objectives: Though previous research has indicated that language brokering can be stressful, the findings are mixed, pointing to potential moderators of the association. Guided by an ecological perspective, we examined the role of individual, family, and environmental factors in Mexican American adolescents’ acute cortisol responses to language brokering. Method: The study consisted of 46 Mexican American adolescents recruited around a metropolitan city in Central Texas. Participants translated a difficult medical document from English to Spanish for their parents, followed by an arithmetic task (modeled after the Trier Social Stress Test [TSST]). Participants’ perceptions (perceived efficacy and parental dependence), parental hostility, and discrimination experiences were assessed via self-report and were examined as moderators of adolescents’ responses to the task. Results: Results revealed differential responses to the task based on individual, family, and environmental factors. High efficacy and low dependence−parental hostility−discrimination related to stress responses characterized by low baselines, steeper reactivity, and faster recovery. Low efficacy and high dependence related to greater baseline stress and a slower recovery. High levels of parental hostility related to a slower recovery. High levels of discrimination related to greater baseline stress. Conclusions: The study demonstrates that the modified TSST task can elicit an acute hypothalamic−pituitary−adrenal axis response, but the nature of this response is dependent upon participants’ perceptions of language brokering (parental dependence and efficacy), parental hostility, and discrimination experiences. Adolescents’ individual characteristics and contextual demands remain important considerations in understanding their acute stress responses. 
    more » « less
  3. This study focused on early adolescents’ stress of language brokering and examined the moderating role of family cumulative risk in the relation of language brokering to adjustment problems. Data came from self-reports of 604 low-income Mexican American adolescent language brokers (54% female; [Formula: see text]= 12.4; SD = 0.97; 75% born in the United States) and their parents (99% foreign-born) in central Texas. Path analyses revealed that brokering stress, but not frequency, was positively associated with adolescents’ adjustment problems, including depressive symptoms, anxiety, and delinquency. We also found that the relation between stress of brokering for mothers and adolescents’ depressive symptoms was stronger among families with a high cumulative risk. Further, with a high cumulative risk, adolescents exhibited delinquent behaviors regardless of the levels of stress from translating for fathers. Current findings underscore the importance of examining family contexts in assessing the consequences of language brokering for Mexican American early adolescents’ well-being. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    This study examined the associations of language brokering stressintensityandexposurewith Mexican‐origin youths’ cortisol responses when brokering for fathers and mothers, and the moderating role of youths’ brokering efficacy in these relations. Participants were 289 adolescents (Mage = 17.38,SD = .94, 52% girls) in immigrant families. When brokering for mothers, stressexposurewas related to flatter (less healthy) same‐day diurnal slopes in youth. When brokering for fathers, daily brokering efficacy buffered the detrimental link between stressintensityand youths’ same‐day cortisol slopes. When brokering for fathers/mothers, stressintensityandexposurewere related to flatter (less healthy) next‐day diurnal slopes. Although daily brokering stress can relate to youth physiologic functioning, feeling efficacious about brokering may buffer the negative ramifications of stress.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    This study used a three‐wave longitudinal dataset to: identify adjustment profiles of U.S. Mexican‐origin adolescents based on their physical, academic, and psychosocial health adjustment; track adjustment profile changes throughout adolescence; and examine the associations between cultural stressors, family obligation, and adjustment profile membership over time. Participants were 604 Mexican‐origin adolescents (54% female,Mage = 12.41, SD = 0.97) in Texas (Wave 1: 2012–2015; Wave 2: 2013–2016; Wave 3: 2017–2020). Three concurrent profiles (Well‐adjusted,Moderate, andPoorly‐adjusted) emerged at each wave, whereas three transition profiles (Improved,Stable well‐adjusted, andOverall poorly‐adjusted) were identified across three waves. The results suggest that cultural stressors pose risks for Mexican‐origin adolescents' adjustment, and family obligation values play a protective role in these associations.

    more » « less