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About the project

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The Translators in Schools training programme has run three times since its launch in November 2013, and we thank our hosts, Free Word, the European Commission, the University of Roehampton, King’s College London and Westminster School, as well as the schools that have taken part: Granton Primary School in Streatham, Hillcross Primary School in Merton, Allen Edwards School in Stockwell and Heathbrook, Vauxhall, Wyvil and Oasis Academy Johanna primary schools (all in Vauxhall), and Short Wood Primary School in Wellington, Shropshire.

The programme involves three increasingly focused stages of training for translators and teaching assistants:

  • A day of workshops covering translation activities, lesson planning and classroom management
  • A day that includes two 90-minute sessions with visiting schoolchildren based on a template introduced on the first training day
  • A period of mentoring for participants during which they adapt activities from the training, introduce their own original ideas and lead a translation workshop in a school while being supervised by Sarah Ardizzone or Sam Holmes

In February 2015 the Translators in Schools team introduced a standalone training day for primary and secondary teachers to equip multilingual teachers to:

  • run courses to engage particular groups of pupils and/or parents and develop broader literacy skills
  • enrich modern foreign language lessons
  • organise after school or lunchtime clubs focusing on creative multilingualism
  • promote interest in writing in the home language as a first step towards sitting a GCSE in the home language

And in April 2015 we ran an additional training day that was open to translators who had taken part in Days 1 and 2 and to teachers. Described as an ‘ideas lab’ for those interested in using translation in the classroom it included:

  • new activities and resources, including, for instance, a poetry translation session aimed at Key Stage 3 and 4 students of modern foreign languages
  • an opportunity to discuss and plan a new workshop and receive constructive feedback from teachers and translators

The Big Translate in the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall was an opportunity for ten translators from the Translators in Schools programme to run a public workshop. As part of the October 2015 London Literature Festival, the translators helped 60 children from four local primary schools translate into English ten strikingly illustrated books from around the world. Working with seven languages, some of which used a non-roman alphabet, the children discovered that everything – from pictures, to story and tone – needs translating. They became code-cracking language detectives, using glossaries to make first a literal translation then a polished, nuanced version. They learnt what translation involves, what happens to books when they make the journey from one language (and culture) to another, and how languages and translated literature enrich our lives. The children then took to the stage to talk about what they had learnt, throwing in for good measure the animal sounds they had translated and the hybrid animals they had invented. The Big Translate was supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and by the European Commission.

With support from the Mercers’ Company, a second Big Translate was held at Short Wood Primary School in the West Midlands in June 2016, when the children translated books from Russian, Polish, Croatian and French with the help of five graduates of the Translators in Schools programme.

We hope to offer the training programme again in 2017. If you would like to be notified when dates and details are known, please email Suzanne Joinson on sj@stephen-spender.org, attaching your CV and explaining briefly why you are interested in Translators in Schools.

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An invaluable opportunity to give a mini-workshop in a controlled environment, with a tried and tested lesson plan. The experience and confidence I gained I don’t think I could have got any other way

Asa Yoneda (translator from English and Korean into Japanese)

What a wonderful programme! Great job and concept. Glad to be part of it

Martina Tomassini (translator from English, French and German into Italian)

The format of the workshop was very helpful in creating a sense of balance between control and spontaneity

Cristina Viti (translator from English and French into Italian)