translation nation

Inspiring literature in translation in schools


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Translation Nation is a double award-winning project which aims to inspire children and young people to begin or continue what we hope is a lifelong exploration of literature and culture from around the world. The project promotes pride and enthusiasm for the many languages that are spoken or taught in UK schools, encourages recognition for the important role translation plays in our lives, and encourages an enjoyment and appreciation of literary English and the nuances of the English language. The project is a partnership between Eastside Educational Trust and the Stephen Spen der Trust and brings together Eastside’s work in educational settings and the Stephen Spender Trust’s commitment to literature in translation.

Translation Nation was launched in 2010 for primary schools and in 2012 was stamped with both The European Language Label and the EuroTalk Primary Education Language Prize. The project was also re-launched that year to continue its work with primary schools and also work with secondary schools in a new pilot model.

In primary schools


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Translation Nation empowers primary school children as translators, interpreters and storytellers of international stories. It celebrates the many community languages spoken by the children and encourages a curiosity about world literature.

Working in small groups under the guidance of language experts, the children translate into English and re-interpret stories that their parents have shared with them from their home languages. The process introduces the children to literary fiction and by including music, props and performance the children find it easy to become engaged and the workshops encourage a more thoughtful, confident, nuanced and imaginative approach to writing in English. By sharing their languages with their peers, pupils become fascinated by the different worlds that language can create and develop a respect for those with linguistic ability. Parents are able to find new ground on which to communicate with their children and build a bridge between their childhood and their child’s. Schools are able to offer parents different ways of becoming involved within the school community and teachers become inspired to adopt more creative ways to engage with their pupils.

You can listen to Michael Rosen’s thoughts on visiting one of the participating primary school for BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth here.


Michael Rosen – Translation Nation

In secondary schools

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Translation Nation in secondary schools creatively and persuasively highlights to students the value of multi-lingualism today and the opportunities it brings in social and professional contexts and in accessing global literature and culture. The project enables pupils through a single workshop to build confidence as translators and to see the relevance of the modern foreign languages (MFLs) they learn in school. It promotes the continuation of MFL learning to equip pupils with highly desirable tools for the future and the option to consider traditional and associated professional pathways around translation and interpreting.

In its pilot year the secondary school workshops were delivered to students in Years 8 and 9 learning either French or Spanish. Guided by a professional translator, pupils tackled a central task around film and subtitling to explore the similarities and differences between cultures and communication. Participants responded to the challenge of translating a section of film script and creating their own English subtitles. They were encouraged to play with language and find imaginative solutions to the slang and cultural references revealed in the texts. Workshops concluded with dynamic role-plays and the students’ subtitles completed and ready to be laid over the relevant section of film.

Using film and role-plays in this way in the classroom generates discussion, enthusiasm and engagement, and teachers commented that this was particularly notable in students who have previously shown little interest in mfl lessons. The process demonstrates to participants that languages can be exciting, playful, thought provoking and above all a gateway to films, literature and opportunities from around the world.

We hope that this website will encourage you to explore world literature and languages with young people. The website includes resources which will help you to re-create aspects of our school workshops.


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