St Anne’s Primary School in London played host to Translation Nation in 2011 and 2012 with the help of translator, editor and teacher Sarah Griffin-Mason.
Children from Years 5 and 6 took part in the project, with their teacher commenting that it was lovely to see children from different year groups working together so well. Parents came into school and also sent in stories to share, with their home languages, including Amharic, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. The children did a fantastic job of interpreting the stories for the rest of the class, in fact many of the bilingual children said they often act as translators for family members and the group discussed what an important and useful skill this could be.
As the children started working on their translations they began to notice the similarities and differences between their languages. Sarah thought the children showed a great instinct for what makes a good story and were able to add humour, rhyme, actions and even song to their translations before presenting them to an assembly of parents, teachers and students.
The children loved developing their acting skills and were very happy to read out loud in their languages in front of the audience and the staff commented on how much their confidence had improved. The audience voted the Spanish story, The Rainbow and the Chameleon, as their favourite translation in 2011 and the following year a retelling of the Polish tale The Baker and the Biscuits proved most popular.
At the end of the project, the children at St Anne’s were very proud of their achievements. One pupil commented that every step had been really well explained and that pictures had helped him to develop his descriptive writing. Another had particularly enjoyed the group activities and discovering that so many of her friends spoke another language in addition to English. The teachers at St Anne’s provided fantastic support for the project and plan to organise more world literature and multicultural events in the future.