Social work in a multilingual world : interpreter-mediated encounters

Lucas, SE 2014, Social work in a multilingual world : interpreter-mediated encounters , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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In the diverse linguistic landscape of England, it is not uncommon for social workers to work with families who possess varying degrees of English language proficiency. Within such families children may speak multiple languages, and have greater English language proficiency than their parents. The study involved two areas of inquiry. The first part of the inquiry included semi-structured interviews with child and family social workers (n=9), to explore their experiences of interpreter–mediated encounters, including the use of children as interpreters. The second part focused on child language brokering (CLB), this refers to young people who translate and interpret for adults who do not share a mutual language. This part of the research took place at a youth centre and involved semi-structured interviews with young people (n=9) to explore their experiences of language brokering for various adults in multiple settings. The research draws on social constructionist theorising to describe and analyse the participants’ experiences of interpreting. Child interpreters were found to be used by social workers as an informal interpreting resource, to compensate for inadequate linguistic provision. The research presents four challenges in social work practice: i) providing adequate interpreting provision for service users with limited English language proficiency; ii) working effectively with interpreters; iii) working with families in which children speak more English than their parents; and iv) protecting children from the perceived harm of interpreting. The findings from the young people illuminate CLB as one activity that enables persons with limited English language proficiency to access services in the community. CLB therefore presents a diverse conceptualisation of interpreting, childhood and intergenerational relations between children and adults. The findings from both datasets illuminate different aspects of interpreting encounters; social workers as recipients of interpreting provision and young people as providers of interpreting. These dual perspectives illuminate a taken-for-granted area of social work practice and social life.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Themes: Health and Wellbeing
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Depositing User: SE Lucas
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2015 15:53
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 13:30

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