The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of young adult college students with a history of serving as child translators. A child translator is defined as a child who translated/interpreted (to/from family primary-language to English) bills, phone calls, and/or conversations between their family members and teachers, doctors, and other individuals. Per the research literature, these various roles are correlated with both positive and negative mental health and other life outcomes (e.g.., academic performance, social functioning, etc.). In order to further understand the equivocal nature of previous findings, and further examine the complexity involved in this experience, Connecticut College students were interviewed regarding their past and current experiences serving in this role for their families, as well as their current perspectives on how this experience has influenced their lives. Participants (N=30) were asked to complete a confidential questionnaire to screen for the type of translation they have provided, to whom, and how often, in addition to a demographics questionnaire. Students then participate in a semi-structured interview. A grounded theory approach was used for qualitative data analysis. One-third of participants identified as Latinx (n=10; 31%); most were women (n= 23; 76%) and first-generation college students (n=22; 69%). Emergent themes included: pressure of translating/interpreting accurately, translating as a way of giving back, and the impact of translating on parent/family and child relationships. Post-interview, participants shared that this study was the first time they had ever talked about their translating responsibilities, which they experienced was normalizing. The narratives from this study may shed light on the need for culturally responsive practices in the educational and mental health care system.
Cardenas, Rocio, "A Reflection of Young Adults’ Experience as Family Translators: As Told by Connecticut College Students" (2019). Psychology Honors Papers. 78.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.