Expanding Definitions of Giftedness: The Case of Young Interpreters From Immigrant Communities, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Expanding Definitions of Giftedness

The Case of Young Interpreters From Immigrant Communities, 1st Edition

By Guadalupe Valdes


252 pages

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This book is about bilingual young people who have been selected by their families to carry out the hard work of interpreting and translating to mediate communication between themselves and the outside world--between minority and majority communities. It examines the experiences of these young interpreters and the skills they develop in order to fulfill this role.

The authors' purpose in this volume is to contribute to extending current definitions of gifted and talented, by proposing and offering evidence that the young people who are selected to serve as family interpreters perform at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, and environment, and should thus clearly be included in the 1993 U.S. federal definition of giftedness.

They maintain that not only are these capabilities currently overlooked by existing assessment procedures, but also that there is little understanding of the ways in which the unique talents of young interpreters might be nurtured and developed in academic settings.

A strong case is made that in order for such students to be identified as gifted on the basis of their bilingual abilities, the field of gifted and talented education must embrace the concept that bilingualism is a strength. The field must also make developing bilingualism a focus of programs designed to meet the needs of the increasingly multilingual student population in the United States.

The research this book reports--part of a larger five-year study of giftedness through linguistic and cultural lenses, funded by OERI through the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented--was conducted by researchers whose background is very much outside the field of gifted education. Rather, their focus is on language, working within the traditions of qualitative sociolinguistics. Thus, this book offers a unique approach to the exploration of giftedness. It asks researchers and practitioners ordinarily accustomed to working with quantitative data to examine and make sense of detailed and rich analyses of students' linguistic performance, and argues that it is only by understanding the challenges of such bilingual interactions that the field of gifted and talented education can expand and reframe its vision of giftedness.


"Building on several decades of research on the topic and highlighting new empirical research, these books, accessible to a variety of readers, move the discussion of gifted bilinguals from the pages of scholarly journals to the public domain. For that and for the depth of treatment and concreteness of proposed solutions they deserve great recognition."

Bilingual Education and Bilingualism

"This is an important and groundbreaking book. Teachers and administrators working in gifted programs and with students whose native language is not English need to read it and expand their understanding of what giftedness involves."

Studies for Second Language Acquisition

"This is an important book because it brings together sociolinguistics and education to analyze a field that has been superficially explored. It clearly lays out what a complicated cognitive process interpretation/translation is. Society in general takes for granted the work of interpreters, especially casual interpreters. This volume dispels that myth and raises the notion of bilingualism as an asset, not a detriment….The potential implications for education are tremendous."

Mar¡a Estela Brisk

Boston College

"The authors merge two very different bodies of literature and research--interpreting and giftedness--and propose that one can inform the other. I think they are right….As a whole, the book is a refreshing look at an area of competence that is given little attention in the literature or in practice."

Patricia Gandara

University of California at Davis

"The breadth of the book is substantial. It will prove interesting and valuable to persons who are not in the specific field of gifted and talented education, but who want to understand better the adaptation needs and strategies for survival of non-English background immigrant youth and families….and will interest educational professionals in the areas of school psychology, teacher training, educational research, and educational policy analysis…and will be highly informative to graduate students and professional researchers in sociolinguistics, bilingualism, and applied linguistics."

Richard Duran

University of California at Santa Barbara

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. G. Valdés, K. Enright, In Search of Giftedness: The Case of Latino Immigrant Children. G. Valdés, H. Brookes, C. Chávez, Bilinguals and Bilingualism. G. Valdés, C. Chávez, C. Angelelli, A Performance Team: Young Interpreters and Their Parents. G. Valdés, C. Chávez, C. Angelelli, K. Enright, D. García, M. González, The Study of Young Interpreters: Methods, Materials, and Analytical Challenges. G. Valdés, C. Chávez, C. Angelelli, K. Enright, D. García, M. González, The Performance of the Young Interpreters on the Scripted Task. G. Valdés, The Gifts and Talents of Young Interpreters: Implications for Researchers and Practitioners. G. Valdés, Developing the Talents of Latino Immigrant Children: Challenges, Questions, and Opportunities.

About the Series

Educational Psychology Series

This series has several goals:

  • to present the most significant contemporary theory and research on psychology as it is applied to education at all levels – elementary; secondary, and tertiary;
  • to present this research in a way that is relevant and accessible to both psychologists and educators;
  • to explore new ideas in instruction and assessment that are grounded in theory and tested in classrooms;
  • to inform and influence educational policy through the establishment of a solid base of theory and research rather than through the fads and fashions that come and go with the times but that have no base in the psychology of instruction;
  • to achieve further integration in the perspectives of education and psychology, as well as to draw together various fields of psychology in order to capitalize on their potential contributions to educational outcomes;
  • to explore notions of school reform that are linked to our knowledge about students’ learning, thinking, and motivation; and
  • to disseminate ideas from around the world, including Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as the Americas.


This series will publish monographs and edited books that advance these goals through new and innovative contributions to educational psychology. Edited books must have a sense of coherence, contain unifying introductory and concluding chapters, and be internally consistent in scope and level of writing.

Potential authors and volume editors are encouraged to take risks and to explore with the series editors nontraditional points of vie wand methodologies. Interdisciplinary contributions involving theory and methodology from diverse fields, such as computer science, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, and neuroscience, are especially welcome, but all contributions must be readable and interesting to psychologists and educators of varying backgrounds. Authors and editors from all around the world are encouraged to submit proposals.

Examples of topics that would be of interest include, but are not limited to, creative techniques for instruction, nontraditional forms of assessment, student learning, student motivation, organizational structure and climate, teacher education, new conceptions of abilities and achievement, analyses of cognitive structures and representations in various disciplines, expertise in teaching and administration, use of technology in the schools, at-risk children, adult education, and styles of learning and thinking.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Psychology