Workshop at CIEB 2019

In a previous blog post, Benedict Barclay spoke about the talk he’ll be giving at the CIEB bilingual conference in Granada. This post is about the workshop that he’ll be doing at 6 pm on Friday 18 October.

The title of the workshop is From lost in translation to cultural cross-pollination. Or how to successfully translate the untranslatable. As a bilingual teacher, you often know exactly what you want to say in Spanish, but when you try to translate your thoughts into English, you can’t find the right words. In fact, sometimes the right words don’t seem to exist, or if they do, you’re afraid they’ll be confusing for your students.

This workshop is all about how you can – in so far as possible – turn this source of frustration into a source of cultural cross-pollination. I will draw on my experience as a qualified translator and textbook author to discuss some of the problems commonly faced by non-language subject teachers at bilingual schools when attempting to translate ideas from Spanish into English and vice-versa.

Together, we’ll look at practical examples of various different types of translation challenges. These include:

  • Minor differences between the two languages where similar-sounding terms have different nuances. In addition, cases where two apparently identical terms actually mean completely different things.
  • False friends, which teachers may be tempted to use because they appear to make it easier for students learn the correct Spanish term.
  • Cases where one of the languages completely lacks a technical term that is widely used in the other language.
  • Differences in mathematical and scientific notation, and in the use of symbols, units, etc.

For each type of challenge, I’ll give some examples and I’ll also ask participants to give examples from their day-to-day work as teachers. As a group, we’ll look at how we can overcome the challenges, and even use them to give students a new perspective on the topic they’re studying. The emphasis will be on using tools and techniques that maximise the educational benefits for students.

Participants will then get a chance to put these tools into practice by working in groups to solve various translation dilemmas. Afterwards, we’ll all discuss the answers given. Did the groups come to the same conclusions? Is there only one right answer, or do different solutions have different benefits and disadvantages?

Finally, we’ll discuss how a creative and constructive approach to translation can help bilingual programmes to fulfil their stated aim of teaching intercultural skills as well as linguistic ones.

Participants are welcome to speak in English or Spanish, but we’ll try to avoid “Spanglish”!

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