translator: thierry lawson
Students studying French in Years 8 and 9 at Ashcroft Technology Academy in Wandsworth took part in the pilot year of Translation Nation secondary school workshops in 2013. They had the opportunity to meet and work with Thierry Lawson, a French director and filmmaker who spends his time hunting out stories which need translating, interpreting and sharing. Through the opening interactive powerpoint presentation pupils considered the many contexts in which translation and languages are important. Many remarked that “translation is a lot more important than I thought it was” and a number of students found that they were left thinking about their future and how they might want to learnt more languages to increase the professional pathways open to them.
They then took part in a subtitling task to build their confidence as translators and encourage creativity with language. They watched some introductory film clips to identify some of the challenges that subtitlers face, and then focused on creating their own subtitles for a short scene from the French film ‘Entre Les Murs’ or ‘The Class’. Their teacher commented that the choice of film was very powerful as it featured French students of approximately the same age as the participants and it introduced to the groups the everyday language that young people speak in France. The participants discovered just how much hard work is needed to create an effective translation as, as one students noted, “Subtitles aren’t always a direct translation as there are often plays on words which have to be changed to suit other languages and audiences”. They used pre-prepared glossaries to help them with their initial rough translation, and then role-played the scenes to unleash more natural sentences in English that suited the characters. Students were surprised by their achievements in the session and are looking forward to seeing the film clips they worked on with their final version subtitles laid over the top. Their teacher was impressed by this new way of working with film and is looking to incorporate this into some language lessons going forward. She concluded “This was a very interesting experience that I would like to repeat again”