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Spanish pirate workshop with Year 4: Amanda Pierce Collinao

Title: Translating a rhyming Spanish book
To develop creative writing and critical thinking skills by translating a Spanish-language children’s book with a pirate theme
Age group:
Year 4 (age 8–9)
Participants: 27
1 hour 45 minutes

What we did

The pupils got into ‘Spanish mode’ by playing the Spanish version of ‘Simon Says’ and they quickly picked up several command phrases and vocabulary for parts of the body. Year 4 loved this warm-up activity and were then ready to enthusiastically embark on their translation journey. The rhyming Spanish-language book with a pirate theme worked brilliantly as all pupils and teachers were dressed up as pirates to coincide with International Pirate Day! Pupils examined a wordless version of the book to gain a feel for it before using the text and glossaries to undertake a rough translation. Tables of 5–6 pupils each worked on a different section. This was followed by a frantic ripping up of glossaries before I challenged the groups to come up with their own translations of key pages. Finally, the experience was rounded off with a sharing session where pupils presented their work and explained how they had arrived at their chosen wording. This fun and ambitious workshop was tailored to the school’s Raising Achievement Plan and current National Curriculum objectives which state ‘pupils should become more familiar with and confident in using language in a greater variety of situations, for a variety of real purposes and audiences’.

What we got out of it

The teaching assistant thanked me at the end of the workshop and said how great it had been to see the children involved in something totally new to them. The teacher emailed me to report on the resounding success of ‘Simón dice’ and how she had gained some ideas for her future teaching. She thought the workshop and pre-workshop task (researching a word in as many different languages as possible) were very successful in inspiring foreign language learning. Pupils had the opportunity to celebrate multilingualism within their class. The class teacher also thanked me for highlighting some amazing creative writing skills by a pupil who receives support with her writing in other lessons. She said the workshop had been ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ for all pupils. Some of the children produced surprisingly well-thought out and inspired final translations, and the class discovered how important it is to be aware of your intended audience when writing.