Creative Translation for Young People

The Stephen Spender Trust has brought unique courses in creative translation to young people and teachers since 2010.

Photograph of an SST education workshop
For Teachers

Remote CPD in creative translation, autumn 2021

Register your Interest
Photograph of a Creative Translation in the Classroom teacher event
For Translators and Writers

Read about our new education programme

Multilingual Creators
Photograph of an SST workshop

Multilingual Creativity: Virtual resources for young learners and teachers

In recent years we have focused increasingly on empowering teachers to integrate creative translation into their teaching. Our resources hub, Multilingual Creativity, is full of ideas and activities, from video tutorials to live illustration of international poems, worksheets to booklets of suggested poems for translation.

Creative Translation in the Classroom

Our current education programme is Creative Translation in the Classroom (CTiC), launched in 2019. CTiC brings teachers and translators together to develop and deliver creative translation activities for pupils in Key Stages 2 and 3.

The programme:

  • brings translators into schools for workshops and projects
  • trains teachers in creative translation pedagogy
  • develops teaching resources to be used across the curriculum.

The workshops offer an introduction to translation, with activities based on translating comics, picture books, plays, poems and even sound effects. The longer-term projects enable teachers to embed translation in their schools, in conjunction with the Stephen Spender Prize.

Our translators work across numerous languages, but each year there is a ‘Spotlight’ on a community language. In 2020 the focus language was Polish. In 2021 it is Urdu, and in 2022 it will be Romanian. We work with translators and poets to develop workshops and teaching resources, and there is a special strand of the Stephen Spender Prize for translation from the language.

In 2021 we added a remote strand to the programme. In a series of interactive webinars, teachers learn the skills of creative translation and gain resources to use with their pupils.

CTiC is currently running in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, with funding from the Rothschild Foundation and Polonsky Foundation.

Photograph of a Creative Translation in the Classroom teacher event

The Big Translate

The Big Translate is a public creative translation event. Groups of children come together to translate ten strikingly illustrated books from around the world. Participants become code-cracking language detectives, using glossaries to move from literal to creative translation. They learn what translation involves, how books make the journey from one language and culture to another, and how languages and translated literature enrich our lives. The Big Translate culminates in the children performing their translations to an audience.

We have run Big Translates in partnership with institutions including the Southbank Centre and with numerous school groups. If you would like to bring a Big Translate to your setting, please contact us.

The Big Translate in the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall was part of the 2015 London Literature Festival, with SST translators working with 60 children from four local primary schools to translate into English ten strikingly illustrated books from around the world. Working with seven languages, some of which used a non-roman alphabet, the children discovered that everything – from pictures, to story and tone – needs translating. The children then took to the stage to talk about what they had learnt, throwing in for good measure the animal sounds they had translated and the hybrid animals they had invented.

Sarah Ardizzone, co-founder of The Big Translate

“What did my pupils get from the day?

Masses.  A significant increase in their awareness of language on a word, sentence and whole text level; a new way of looking at punctuation and every segment on a written page; seeing the links between visual cues and pictures and the words that accompany these to convey meaning and the interrelationship between the two; a love of language and an appreciation of their role in creating story; increased aspirations, a broadening of their horizons; an opportunity to speak and engage with and use a foreign language in a meaningful way; a chance to meet new and interesting people in a novel place; development of their capacity to be resilient in terms of focusing for a prolonged period and use of reciprocity to work with and learn with others they would not normally collaborate with; an evolving appreciation of cultural and lexical differences and similarities between English and other languages; being changed as people and learners and writers and readers.”

Mike Flowers, Primary School headteacher

Photograph of The Big Translate performance

Translators in Schools

Translators in Schools was a professional development programme for translators and teachers run by the Stephen Spender Trust between 2013 and 2016. It inspired our current programmes ‘Creative Translation in the Classroom’ and ‘Multilingual Creators’.

You can find out more about the project on its dedicated website.

Photograph of SST education workshop

Translation Nation

Translation Nation was a four-year project with Eastside Educational Trust that ran from 2010 to 2014. It saw 10- and 11-year-old children in inner-city primary schools making translations of folk tales from other cultures, and then performing them to their peers and families.

The impact of these workshops on the young participants and their teachers was so transformative, that it led us to develop training programmes for translators, in order to develop the pool of facilitators able to deliver workshops of this kind. In this way, Translation Nation evolved into our current projects, Creative Translation in the Classroom and Multilingual Creators.

Funded by the Arts Council and the Esmée Fairbairn Trust, and curated by Sarah Ardizzone, Translation Nation at primary level:

  • helped children to develop an understanding of how language and literature provide a window into other cultures
  • raised the profile of community languages within schools
  • increased participants’ understanding of how language functions, improved their creative writing and helped them develop clearer and more nuanced English

‘This is a vital project to building the confidence of those students who speak a language other than English.’
Year 5 Teacher, Sir John Heron Primary

Translation Nation for Secondary Schools

Students aged 12-14 in schools across London enjoyed one-hour workshops subtitling French and Spanish films, and considering the career opportunities open to those with language skills.

The programme:

  • ignited students’ interest in studying modern foreign languages
  • introduced students to the fundamentals of translation and the many professional pathways available to young people with language skills
  • encouraged the use of languages to access global literature and culture and intercultural experiences.
Photograph of an SST workshop

Our Workshop Facilitators

We work with a group of talented translators, trained to develop workshops for young people aged 8 to 18.

Photo of Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp

Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp translates books from German, Russian and Arabic into English. She has translated picture books, novels and nonfiction from Germany, Jordan, Palestine, Russia, Switzerland and Syria. Ruth graduated from the University of Oxford in 2003 and completed an MA in Translation and Interpreting at the University of Bath. Ruth is co-founder of educational company Babel Babies and co-editor of World Kid Lit blog, a website focused on global and translated children’s books.

Photo of Rahul Bery

Rahul Bery

Rahul Bery is a translator from Spanish and Portuguese into English. He was the British Library’s translator-in-residence for 2018-2019. He is a qualified teacher of Modern Foreign Languages and English as an Additional Language and has taught in primary and secondary schools in London, Bristol and South Wales. Rahul is lead trainer at the Queen’s College Translation Exchange, facilitating Creative Translation Ambassadors workshops for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Photo of Laura Bennett

Laura Bennett

Laura Bennett translates from French and Italian into English and specialises in the fields of art history, museums and sport. She has published a number of books in all three areas, from exhibition catalogues on the Impressionists and the history of a miniature 18th-century wooden relief map of a French city to biographies of Pablo Picasso, Paul Pogba and Zinedine Zidane.

Sascha Aurora Akhtar

Sascha Akhtar’s eighteen years as a practicing writer have led her to performance, education, mentoring, and translation. She is the author of six poetry collections and a book of translations from the Urdu of the first female pilot in the Subcontinent. Sascha teaches poetry and recently created an online course for The Literary Consultancy as part of their #BeingAWriter project. Sascha’s latest two books are a return to her Pakistani/Urdu roots.

Sascha is the curator of our 2021 Urdu Spotlight programme.

Photo of Cheryl Moskowitz

Cheryl Moskowitz

Cheryl Moskowitz is a poet, novelist, community writing facilitator and creative translator with a background in psychology and theatre. Her Poems from Home initiative encourages EAL communities to engage in creative translation by sharing poems from their home countries. Cheryl translates the work of Ethiopian poet Bewketu Seyoum. She has published two collections of poetry for children, Can it Be About Me? and most recently The Corona Collection – A Conversation as well as a collection for adults The Girl is Smiling (Circle Time Press) and a novel Wyoming Trail (Granta). Cheryl’s new collection Maternal Impression is published with Against the Grain Press in Spring 2021.

Photo of Maja Konkolewska

Maja Konkolewska

Maja Konkolewska is a freelance translator and interpreter working between Polish and English. She holds an MA in Translation Studies from the University of Portsmouth, a Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (Polish-English Law) from the Institute of Linguists Educational Trust, and Qualified Teacher Status. She teaches Community Interpreting and has experience designing and delivering creative translation workshops in primary and secondary schools. An avid reader and road trip enthusiast, she lives with her trilingual family in Brighton and Hove.

Photo of Sophie Hughes

Sophie Hughes

Sophie Hughes has translated some of the finest Spanish and Latin American authors at work today. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize for her translation of Alia Trabucco Zerán’s The Remainder. In 2018 she was named one of the Arts Foundation “25” for her contribution to the field of literary translation. Sophie frequently speaks about translation and give workshops at universities and festivals across the UK and the Americas.