translator: antonia lloyd-jones
St Ethelbert’s Catholic Primary School in Ramsgate was led on its Translation Nation journey in 2011 by Polish literary translator Antonia Lloyd-Jones.
Antonia began by introducing the children to the concept of translation and they were very surprised to hear that only 3% of books printed in the UK have been translated from other languages. Everyone had lots of fun finding out different translations of animal ‘sounds’ and teaching each other simple greetings in their home languages.
On the second day the children shared an unusual selection of stories collected from their families, including a traditional Polish tale and an Ancient Greek myth. One in particular made a big impression on the group. Contributed by Polish student Hubert in Year 6, it was the true story of his grandmother as a little girl during the Second World War. This went on to be chosen by the audience as their favourite translation. The children were very touched by this story, and it perfectly highlighted the themes of heritage, culture and family history at the heart of the Translation Nation project.
As the children developed their stories in English they considered the best way to use language and performance to convey the emotions and messages of their stories, and to make them interesting to an audience. The hub groups were particularly excited about performing the translated stories to their peers and made imaginative use of costumes and props, and even musical instruments to create sound effects.
The St Ethelbert’s children felt very proud to have completed their own translations. It was an empowering experience to speak their home languages at school and to become the resident experts among their classmates. The English speakers expressed their admiration for children who are educated in their second language and a curiosity to read more literature from around the world.