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Activities to Deepen the Explorations of the Construct

These activities may be used to deepen and extend these explorations of everyday language brokering experiences. It can be valuable to spend time exploring students’ language brokering in and of itself, rather than simply using the practice as a stepping-stone to school tasks. Language brokering involves a complex set of linguistic, cultural, and content skills, and you can help students to see and appreciate these complexities. By examining this work in school, you might help to make their future language brokering experiences outside of school into more robust learning opportunities. Your students may reflect more thoughtfully on those experiences and approach them in more conscious ways.

Puzzle Share

(ELA-Listening & Speaking 1.11)

Students work in small groups or at a center to become “experts” on any of the cultural data sets we have provided, or students’ reports on their own language brokering experiences. Who is involved in each episode? What is being translated/interpreted? Where is this taking place? How do the participants feel? Or, how would YOU feel if you were in this situation? Have you ever been in a similar situation?

Home Share

(ELA-Reading 2.2)

Invite students to bring in examples of things they have translated at home. You could create a bulletin board display of “things we have translated for our families.” Students could work in small groups to share written material they have translated and discuss what challenges they faced and how they dealt with them. They could re-enact the translation situations together.


(ELA-Writing Applications 2.1)

Invite students to keep journals of their own, documenting their experiences as language brokers. Ask them to record who they translate for, where this takes place, what they translated, and how they felt about this. Was it easy or hard? What made it easy/hard? Consider offering students the opportunity to earn ongoing “extra credit” by reporting on this everyday work that they do at home. This could be “community service” credit as well, as children are using their skills to help others in their families and communities.


(Visual and Performing Arts-Creative Expression 2.6)

Ask students to draw themselves in language brokering situations. Use students’ drawings for further discussion of how they felt in these situations. (Were they literally “in the middle” between the speakers? How did that feel? How did it feel to be a child speaking to and for adults?)

Drama/Role play

(Visual and Performing Arts, Theatre-Creative Expression 2.2)

Act out language brokering situations. Have students play the parts of the people that were involved. Talk about how they handled each situation. How did it feel? What was easy/hard? How did they handle these challenges? Note that the re-enactments will be dramatized versions of reality. Talk with students about what the “real” situation felt like in comparison with the dramatized versions. These role-plays could also be audio recorded or video recorded for students to watch and reflect upon later.


Look at these graphs of Chicago students’ language brokering experiences:

Graph of Language Brokering: Who have you translated forGraph of Language Brokering: What kinds of things have you translated?



(Full size images of these graphs can be accessed on pages 2 and 4 of the In Other Words Brochure)

Create similar graphs of the class’ language brokering experiences. Have students compare their experiences with those of the Chicago students.

The math of everyday language brokering

(ELA-Reading 2.2-work place documents)

Have students identify how they engage with math concepts within the context of language brokering. For example, have they helped their parents apply for credit or mortgages, fill out tax forms, write checks, make purchases, shop for sales items, make decisions about Internet/phone package deals, check receipts, financial transactions? (These are all things that students in our research project told us they had done.) What did they learn from these activities?  What was hard/easy about them?

The science of everyday language brokering

Have students identify how they engage with science concepts within the context of language brokering. This could include health-related language brokering, reading product labels, or recipes.

Social studies in everyday language brokering 

Through language brokering, children help their families to engage in many kinds of civic activities, and more generally, to be productive citizens. They may be exposed to some specific social studies concepts through such language brokering activities as reading jury summons, letters from social service agencies, voter registration materials, or citizenship exam study materials.

Including students who do not have experience as language brokers 

These students may write/talk about times they have seen other people work as language brokers. They may think of times when someone else acted as a language broker for them when they did not understand the language being used. They may also think about how they speak differently in different places or in different relationships – a form of “translation” across registers or varieties of English.


Read and discuss the In Other Words Brochure with your students.

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