translator: sam holmes
Stockwell Primary School welcomed French teacher Sam Holmes to lead its Translation Nation project in 2011 and 2012 with a group of students from Year 5. Sam introduced the children to the concept of translation and international storytelling by reading a Portuguese story from Brazil, and playing a very popular game of multilingual Simon Says.
Children shared stories they had brought in from home and proudly presented their home language story books in several languages, including Portuguese, Turkish and Arabic. The English speaking students provided valuable support to their classmates by helping them to produce descriptive and clearly articulated written versions of the stories in English. As an extra challenge, Sam asked the children to experiment with their stories by re-writing them as a diary entry, a newspaper article or a horror story. This encouraged the children to consider the numerous ways you can tell the same story, using register and language to change the style and tone. Pupils also displayed impressive oral skills by describing the features of deadly dinosaurs to their partners in an unusual twist on the Guess Who game.
To make the performance of their final translations really enjoyable the children brought in props and costumes and had fun with inventive sound effects. The teachers commented that the emphasis on group collaboration supported the children’s communication and that the encouragement to use phrases in the original language in their final presentations led to some pupils trying to speak lines in a totally new language under the instruction of their classmates.
The audience response was very positive, and the children particularly liked the funny scenes in the translated versions. There were so many wonderful stories to choose from, with their strengths ranging from most professional presentation to most intricate script. In both 2011 and 2012 the stories originating from Portugal made a strong impression as they included many cultural references and were inspired by real circumstances in the country’s history.
Translation Nation motivated the Stockwell students to take pride in their languages and cultures. Sam, the project leader, commented, ‘The pupils were really excited by their role as interpreters and translators and enjoyed being experts in their languages’. The teachers also very much valued the focus which the project gave to relevant literacy objectives and commented that the improvement to writing skills was extremely evident and a great additional benefit of Translation Nation.