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Kids in the Middle, Q&A with Inmaculada García-Sánchez

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Kids in the middle:

Recognizing the important role of children as cultural translators

By Kendall Powell, Knowable Magazine

Linguistic anthropologist Inmaculada García-Sánchez of Temple University studies child language brokers. It’s a term that might evoke an image of kids in sharply pressed business suits, but these kids are brokers in the sense that they arrange and negotiate transactions or conversations on behalf of immigrant family members and other community adults because, often, they speak the dominant language better than their elders.

Their work as language interpreters in their communities is key in business transactions, civic engagement, health care and even their own parent-teacher conferences, García-Sánchez has found. Writing in the Annual Review of Anthropology, she flips the idea that most of us have about children and caregiving. (García-Sánchez defines the term broadly as acting on the behalf of others.) In a discussion with Knowable, she says society should recognize that children are far from helpless and do more to care for others in their families and communities than we give them credit for. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

For the full text of the article click here, and for free access to Dr. García-Sanchez’s Annual Review article.


Knowable Magazine is an independent journalistic endeavor from Annual Reviews