whitehall junior school

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translator: bhavit mehta

Whitehall Junior School in Hillingdon were excited to take part in Translation Nation in summer 2013. Two lead teachers attended an INSET at Eastside in March to learn more about the project and experience some of the activities themselves, and this enabled further planning so that the whole of Year 5 at Whitehall could participate in the three day summer delivery. The Translation Nation team worked with one class whilst Whitehall teachers led parallel activities with the other two Year 5 classes. This was a fantastic approach and led to wonderful engagement from the whole year group.

All the children in Years 4 and 5 were enthusiastic audience members for an interactive story told in Guajarati by translator Bhavit Mehta, and the Year 5 classes were very creative in exploring reinterpretations of the story later in the day. There was a rich mix in the languages spoken by pupils and they were keen to share words and phrases with their classmates in Turkish, Zulu, Urdu, Persian and Patois to name but a few of the languages.

Day 2 of the project proved to be the jewel in the crown, as thirteen family members arrived in school to give renditions of stories in their home languages. The children loved hearing these and were particularly proud of their own family members. “My mum came into school today and I enjoyed translating the story she told” reflected one pupil, whilst another added “It was fun to hear other people telling stories in other languages, because you don’t get to do that every day”. The Zulu story, complete with special sound effects, was the funniest contribution, leaving pupils in fits of giggles!

Pupils worked diligently and imaginatively in groups to develop written English versions for a selection of the stories that they’d heard and Whitehall’s magical drama cupboard provided excellent props and costume pieces for the performances on Day 3. The children loved starring in their own mini plays, and all of their work was of exceptionally high quality. Ultimately the humorously titled ‘Who pooped on the Mole’s Head?’ story, which had originally been told in Dutch, became the Translation Nation chosen story and pupils and visiting parents cheered on the winners.

Teachers at Whitehall played a central role across the three days, and very much contributed to the success of the project. They were delighted with the outcome and particularly that Translation Nation had encouraged so many parents to come into school to share stories. The school is now planning to make this activity happen on a regular basis and is looking at integrating further incarnations of the Translation Nation experience to link in with World Book Day or their International Week.