Bilingual language broker profiles and academic competence in Mexican-origin adolescents

Su Yeong Kim, Minyu Zhang, Shanting Chen, Jiaxiu Song, Belem G. Lopez, Erin M. Rodriguez, Esther J. Calzada, Yang Hou, Jinjin Yan, Yishan Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1582-1595
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 american psychological association.


  • Academic competence
  • Adolescence
  • Bilingualism
  • Language broker
  • Mexican American

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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