In 2013 Haseltine Primary School approached Eastside to take part in Translation Nation to engage with the children and families who come to the school from all over the world, many of them recent arrivals. Haseltine is proud of the rich cultural mix of its community and wanted Eastside’s help to celebrate this and underpin the language work and home-school contacts that are crucial in enabling children to get the most out of their time in school.
Years 3, 4 5 and 6 were introduced to the German story of ‘Der Kleine Mondbär’ in the initial assembly, and were captivated by this tale of a little bear who falls in love with the moon. Facilitator Aki used props and bear ears to bring the story to life, and the children were an excellent audience managing to piece together nearly all of the details of the bear’s woes.
In the Translation Nation hubgroup the children were from Polish, Bulgarian, Algerian, Hungarian, Estonian, Jamaican and Iraqi backgrounds and also spanned across a few different year groups. Aki and the Eastside volunteers used varied and imaginative techniques to encourage the communication of languages and cultures and the development of written skills in English. Younger pupils were paired with the oldest members of the group to make sure they were looked after and included and were given smaller tasks to make sure they were contributing. It also helped to have someone looking after each pupil whose English wasn’t as strong, and small bursts of creative writing exercises between longer stretches of activity also helped to keep things interesting.
Wonderfully varied stories emerged from the group, with titles including ‘Lima’s Red Hot Chilli Pepper’ and ‘The Shoemaker and the Dragon’. They performed these in front of the whole school on the final day and ‘Anansy and Bredda Lion’ was chosen as the Translation Nation winning story. This was a lovely outcome, as Jamaican pupil Markel had originally treated the class to a live translation of the story from a written copy in Patois his mother had prepared for him. He was very proud that his tale was voted the very best by his peers.
Teacher feedback indicated that Translation Nation has been an exceptionally positive experience.
“The Translation Nation staff were brilliant, professional and enthusiastic. We got some lovely writing from some unexpected children, which is always a great thing. These may end up supplementing their assessments, and could even result in them going up a level. We also got some sterling performances from children who have been too shy to speak on stage in the past, and a Hungarian girl who rarely speaks, even 1-2-1, said a line on stage to the whole of KS2.”
Teaching staff are keen to continue building on the strong foundations that the project has laid and are delighted to be issuing invitations to parents to share their languages with pupils in other contexts such as on Bastille Day and other world holidays.