Notes from Translating Childhoods: Immigrant Youth, Language, and Culture: Zones of Proximal Development

The sociocultural potential for scaffolding language brokering into language arts curricula:

“Language brokering work is [a] domain in which the assumptions that adults are experts and children novices should be challenged. Language brokering involves activities in which children, often taking the lead with adults, facilitate their parents’ abilities to accomplish tasks that these adults would not be able to accomplish on their own. In the process, children also support their parents’ acquisition of English language and literacy skills. Thus, in many ways, translation episodes represent zones of proximal developmentĀ for parents, where children serve as the experts” (104).

“[. . .] parents also support their children’s work as translators in various ways. They ask questions, call for clarification, prompt their movement through text, offer procedural guidance, provide background information, correct children’s Spanish pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, and otherwise work with the children to make sense of texts. They do this in varying degrees, across contexts, relationships, situations and tasks, and the nature and degree of their support certainly matters for children’s experiences of translation and for what they learn from their experiences. Thus, zones of proximal development of language brokering are dynamic and shifting. Children and parents mutually scaffold each other’s learning in these events, and they advance their skills together. THis can include their acquisition of the two languages, literacy skills, procedural knowledge, and knowledge about the social world. Both parent and child may provide different kinds of expertise, and zones of proximal development may modulate dynamically in interactions over tasks” (104).

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