Discrimination, language brokering efficacy, and academic competence among adolescent language brokers

Shanting Chen, Yang Hou, Aprile Benner, Su Yeong Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Discrimination is detrimental for the development of ethnic minority adolescents' academic competence. To combat the negative effects of discrimination and promote academic success, it is important to understand the mechanisms underlying the association between discrimination and academic competence. Guided by the integrative model of ethnic minority children's development and the adapting cultural systems framework, this study examined whether a culture-specific factor, language brokering efficacy, mediated the relation between adolescents' perceived discrimination and their academic competence. Method: Data were drawn form a two-wave longitudinal study of 604 Mexican American adolescent language brokers residing in and around a metropolitan city in central Texas, USA (54% female; Mage = 12.5; SD = 1.0; 75% born in the U.S.). Path analyses were conducted to answer the research questions. Results: The study revealed that the link between discrimination and academic competence was mediated by language brokering efficacy when translating for fathers and mothers, although the path from language brokering efficacy to academic competence was stronger when brokering for mothers. Conclusions: The results highlight the importance of incorporating ethnic minority children's adapting cultural experiences in linking the contextual influence with their developmental competence. Implications for interventions aiming to reduce the negative impacts of discrimination are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-257
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this research was provided through awards to Su Yeong Kim from (1) National Science Foundation , Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences , 1651128 and 0956123 (2) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 5R03HD060045-02 (3) Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Grant and Special Research Grant from the University of Texas at Austin , and (4) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 5P2CHD042849-17 grant awarded to the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Academic competence
  • Discrimination
  • Language brokering
  • Mexican American

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Discrimination, language brokering efficacy, and academic competence among adolescent language brokers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this