lister community school

translator: lucy greaves

At Lister Community School in Newham all pupils learning Spanish in Years 8 and 9 took part in the Translation Nation experience in summer 2013. They quizzed literary translator Lucy Greaves on her job and were impressed to hear that as a freelancer she is her own boss and able to work from home or work from abroad. Lots of students sat up and took notice when presented with a set of diverse and impressive jobs which are open to young people who speak languages and are skilled in translation or interpreting. The boys were particularly interested to hear that José Mourinho was formerly an interpreter for football legend Sir Bobby Robson.

They were introduced to the Spanish film ‘Cobardes’ or ‘Cowards’ and were surprised to find that they could piece together what was going on even without understanding all of the Spanish. The universal theme of bullying and friendships in school made the subtitling exercise accessible to them. They were able to use the pre-prepared glossary, along with a little guess work, to piece together a rough translation of the transcript. Then students really came into their own when asked to role play the scene and find English equivalents for the Spanish slang and teenage dialogue they were translating. Some pupils commented that they hadn’t realised that slang exists in Spanish, and others noted that translation can be tricky as some words don’t exist in other languages.

The experience left participants with lots to think about – many had increased enthusiasm for Spanish, and thoughts lingered regarding the jobs they could explore which might make use of the many other languages spoken within the group.