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In Between Language and Health: Children’s experiences brokering language, culture, and information for health


In recent decades the term child language brokering has been used to describe the linguistic and cultural mediation and work of bilingual children to help others communicate. This dissertation explores health related language brokering experiences of seven middle school aged language brokers. The data analyzed in this dissertation was gathered through individual and family interviews. This dissertation explores the places, people, activities, and content child language brokers encounter in the health domain. This dissertation also explores unique aspects of language brokering linked to health, including: brokering language for health supplements, younger siblings, adolescent health, schooling purposes, and the experience of being a second generation language broker. Finally, this dissertation provides a closer look at the fluidity of language, culture, and roles embedded in language brokering for health.

This dissertation is guided by ideas grounded in language brokering research, sociocultural learning theory, literacy studies, health, and health literacy research. These components guide the work and discuss findings. For language brokering research, this study contributes to understanding of child language brokers’ role and experiences, particularly for brokering language and culture linked to health issues. For education research, this study highlights the intellectual complexities of brokering language for health, and also reveals that child language brokers from Generation Z are more likely to have a parent who is also a language broker. Consequently, current child language brokers may already be relying on their parent language brokers as linguistic and cultural resources. This dissertation also provides insight for public health and health research, in regards to the health experiences, practices, and resources of children of immigrants and populations with limited English Proficiency (LEP).

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