translator: sarah griffin-mason
Children at Sparrow Farm Junior School embarked on the Translation Nation project in 2011 and 2012 with Spanish speaking translator, editor and teacher Sarah Griffin-Mason. During the first sessions, the students enjoyed Sarah’s translation of a Spanish story and were curious to find out more about each other’s languages and cultures. They went on to translate stories from the school’s community languages including Urdu, Telegu and Polish over the following days. Children from other classes in the school also took part in parallel story writing sessions throughout the project.
The last session was dedicated to polishing the stories and preparing them for presentation to an audience of teachers and students. As well as incorporating music into their performances, the students utilised their impressive IT skills to create PowerPoint presentations. The audience responded enthusiastically to all the stories and gave a huge cheer in 2011 at the announcement that The Magic Stone, translated from Urdu, was the winning story. In 2012 an impressive translation of The Treasure, also from Urdu, was voted their favourite whilst Sarah and the teachers gave special recognition to a beautiful retelling of a French poem as well.
Parents, teachers and other pupils in the school showed great interest in the project, and Sarah thought it had been a very special event for the whole school community. The teachers were very impressed by the students’ translation abilities but were also pleased that the children had developed their English language skills through the creative writing exercises. One teacher observed, ‘The children’s enhanced pride and positive self-esteem as a result of participation in the project was very evident’, and expressed a wish to further explore and celebrate their language skills in the future.
Pupils from Sparrow Farm excitedly championed Translation Nation when they took part in conversation with Michael Rosen on his Word of Mouth radio programme. The school has also recognised how usable many of the games and techniques from the project are and plans to support students with other opportunities to practice public speaking and presentation skills. Teachers remarked on the legacy of the project and their pleasure in seeing the children who originally took part in 2011 remembering it so well, feeling valued, and proudly stepping into the role of language ambassadors.