Translation Programme

In the days before the reforms to the Baccalauréat, I used to work intensively on translation as a skill to help the students to prepare for the test which was worth 6/20. In the final year before all changed, I had a fabulous group of 11 students and they got really motivated by translating. And of the 11, nearly all of them continued with languages in their studies, in some shape or form. Having worked for two years as a translator, in a previous life, I absolutely loved sharing with them the buzz of translating and searching for the exact word or expression. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I will grant you that, but if you love it, well, you really do just love it.


Translation is, to my mind, an excellent way of developing language skills and of encouraging a broadening of vocabulary. As part of my final chapter with my L LVA class this year, I am going to introduce them to translation. We started this morning, and I have to say, it was not as smooth as I would have liked. “Il faut lire tout ça ?” was one reaction. “Ca ne sert à rien”, was another !! Ho hum – keep smiling. We will get there in the end.

Maybe my text on Easter Eggs didn’t grab them, but to be perfectly frank, some of them wouldn’t know they were being grabbed by a text if it jumped up and bit them on the backside !! In a group of 32, half of whom will be giving up the option at the end of the year, I am going to have to accept that some of them will be left behind and that is never comfortable. But for those who will be continuing, they deserve the chance to see what it is all about and see if it does float their boat.

If you want to see more about what we are doing in the Translation programme, you can click HERE. Not only will we be working on translating different texts, but we will also do some machine translation and hopefully, a bit of live translating / interpreting, for fun. Watch this space.


Older generations

I wrote recently about the sadness which surrounds the death of a 25 year-old. Today I have been working on a film which caught my eye during Sport Relief on the TV a month or so ago. sport-relief-300x300On a night of campaigning and money raising, there are numerous films and clips shown, many humorous, such as the ones that invariably involve David Beckham and James Corden. david and jamesThere are also some incredibly heart-wrenching ones, usually involving starving kids. But one film in particular caught my attention this year and I have built some lesson ideas around it. The film is about a guy called Bob, who is 92 years old and who lost his wife to Altzheimer’s disease three years ago.

The aim of the film is to raise money for financing “The Silver Line”, a telephone helpline for the elderly, who can call 24/7 just for a chat, to have someone to talk toin an attempt to help to beat the loneliness of old age. bobHowever the choices I wanted to make went beyond that. I wanted to use Bob as an inspiration, as he talks of his wife and their relationship over the sixty or so years they had together. Within a chapter on LOVE, I always like to focus on the positive. This seemed to me to be to be a beautiful example of positives.

I recently worked on LOVE with a class of Premières students. As a final task to conclude the unit, I asked the kids to think of a couple they know (family or friends) and to tell their love story. I didn’t want to hear about the student’s own stories as I was looking for a longer-standing relationship and I needed the kids to be able to tell from a distance. The aim was to get the kids working on all the vocab and ideas we had included in our chapter.

To start with, I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to upset anyone and, I was warned by colleagues that it was a bit dodgy, in these politically-correct days, to ask about relationships when everyone seems to be divorcing. But after a lot of thought, I decided to forge ahead anyway and one of the major constraints placed on the pupils was that they had to tell a true story.

The majority of the students went with their grandparents’ stories. We were transported back to a time many years ago ; of military service, of love letters being written, of clapped-out old 2CV cars, of crackly phone calls … Not only did I thoroughly enjoy reading the stories, as each one was unique and interesting to read, but also, the students themselves had spent time with their grandparents, talking, asking questions and learning about things that they hadn’t previously known, in terms of family history. One girl, L, did several drafts of her essay, each time getting back to her grandmother and grandfather, to get the extra details, to take a photo or two, to make the quality of her work even better. She wanted to do her grandparents proud.

The results were, for a large majority of the class, amazing. They students uploaded their stories into their digital portfolios, so, in away, they published their work on-line, albeit in a private space. Several told me how they shared the link with those in question and how it had given a lot of pleasure within the family. One girl even told me how she spent a whole afternoon, teacing her grandmother how to go on-line so she could see and read the story in print.

generationsI am a great believer in the power of Intergenerationality (is that a word ?). Younger kids working with the older generations – it has to be a pathway to greater understanding, doesn’t it ? We have so much to learn from the older and wiser.

If you want to find out more about the “Meet Bob” films and the work we have done, click here.