Last month, we presented our model and ‘all-you-can-translate’ events at the Annual Conference of the Chinese Language Teachers Federation of Australia. We were then invited to share it again through the Chinese Teachers Training Centre’s Hanyu Laoshi Show – accessible here. During these presentations, we focused more particularly on the learning benefits of our events, and potential classroom applications of our collaborative translation model.
Our all-you-can-translate events have a very simple format: in small bilingual teams, participants are invited to translate a text English to Chinese, or Chinese to English. The fastest team and most elegant translation each receive a small prize. The race is followed by a short debrief session to cement learning, organised round three core questions. What did you love? What frustrated you? What did you learn?
‘All-you-can-translate’ events benefit participants in five distinct ways:
- Language and culture. During the course of two hours, participants get to practice reading and/or writing in their second language, and close-read an original text that gives insight about a foreign culture.
- Practical skills. Participants gain increased confidence in using technology for language purposes (online publishing, use of online dictionaries). They also develop their translation skills, and capacity to switch from one language to the other.
- Cross-cultural skills. Participants are invited to work together as part of a cross-cultural team. They must organise and allocate a diversity of tasks. Additionally, by discussing translation options among themselves, they become more aware of the various meanings attached to words and concepts across languages, and even across individuals
- Attitude. Some participants come to these events with no experience of translation, yet find themselves able to perform well. This significantly contributes to their self-confidence. Beside, working in a bilingual team context where high language skills in English and Mandarin are required to perform well, participants become more aware of each other’s skill set, and their complementarity – which increases mutual respect.
- Friends. Finally, our events are inherently social. Have you noted how, when there’s a common goal, conversation becomes easier? Language exchanges can be embarrassing, if you’re not sure what to talk about. But during our events, the conversation just flows, in both English and Mandarin – and some people have made good friends from participating!