All posts by Max Finkelstein

Summary of “In the Service of Surveillance: Immigrant Child Language Brokers in Parent-Teacher Conferences.” by Jennifer F. Reynolds, Marjorie Failstich Orellana, and Inmacilada Garcia-Sanchez

In the service of surveillance: Immigrant child language brokers in parent-teacher conferences by Jennifer F. Reynolds, Marjorie Failstich Orellana, and Inmacilada Garcia-Sanchez, the authors discussed how the children of immigrant families in America serve as, what Lucy Tse called in 1995, language brokers. They serve a highly important job to their parents as being permanent, built in translators for various aspects of the immigrant families who live in a new country form a different language from their own. Specifically, the authors set the example of the language broker’s role in their own parent teacher conferences in school. As these kids have their role of language broker the authors state that it gives the children multiple layers of surveillance over what they are now involved in. The ethnographic research that the authors based their findings from as well as their own ethnographic research, as stated by the authors, was very wide-ranging. The main study the argument is based off, is a study of immigrant-child language brokering among Latino immigrants in Chicago and Southern California. It involved an enormous amount of participant-observation, informal interviews with families, children’s research journals, and audio-recordings of children in a variety of translation situations over a period of several years.

The authors argue that these roles, of the children who were put into such family situations, have different opportunities and outlooks into certain situations in life that most American born families never have to think of or experience. The authors use the example of how, in the situation of the parent teacher conference, the teacher praised the student. The translations tended to be more directly verbatim of what they said. Rather than when something was said less praise-worthy. The students were more inclined to summarize what the teacher said and translate to their parents . The evidence provided by the authors very clearly accompanied the argument of the children being put into different positions versus non immigrant children. The authors allowed readers to see how the lives of immigrant children are given different tasks opposed to the others. As well as how the children take their language broker expertise and use it in their favor.

The reader now has an inside view on the job many immigrant children are tasked with. The author gives various examples of the struggle these children have to endure, more specifically, with the example of the parent teacher conference.The children are now open to surveillance over situations most non-immigrant are not put into.

Reynolds, J, M Orellana, and I García-Sánchez (2015). “In the Service of Surveillance: Immigrant Child Language Brokers in Parent-Teacher Conferences.” Langage et société 153(3): 91-108.