translator: bhavit mehta
Translation Nation visited Springwell Junior School in Middlesex in 2011 and 2012 with translator and children’s author Bhavit Mehta, to explore its community languages of Gujarati, Urdu and Hindi.
Throughout the three day project, the students particularly enjoyed exploring their languages through games. This included a few rounds of multilingual Chinese Whispers and Simon Says in Hindi. The children began to notice similarities between their languages and to think about how their language use alters when they are at home or at school. The children realised that they are already modifying and translating what they say depending on the audience, whether it’s mum, a teacher or a friend.
Parents and grandparents joined the group to share their international stories and pupils were excited to see their family members taking part. The Springwell teachers also contributed to the storytelling session. The winning story in 2011, The Lion and the Mouse, was translated from Urdu into English and the pupils responsible for this piece worked very hard to produce an interesting and imaginative translation. In 2012 animals and Urdu once more took the limelight with the tale The Tortoise and the Hare taking the Translation Nation title.
By the end of the project the children expressed a really positive attitude towards language learning, as one child summed up perfectly, ‘Languages are useful in life and fun to learn’. Translation Nation was also a special opportunity for the children at Springwell to collaborate with students from different year groups and many commented that they would like to do this more often. The students’ enthusiasm has inspired the Springwell staff to plan similar projects for the future and to explore world literature in their lessons. As a tribute to the excellent work of the Translation Nation teams the teachers created a special display in the school to showcase the project and celebrate Springwell’s community languages.