I work in a variety of ways to spread the good news about foreign languages and literatures – as project manager, editor, translator and lecturer. I’m particularly committed to promoting languages at school level and to widening participation at university level, and I’m interested in the role that translation and literature can play in that endeavour. I run two organisations: the Stephen Spender Trust, and the Translation Exchange at The Queen’s College Oxford.
See the Projects page for information about each of these roles.
June 2021: at the Translation Exchange and Stephen Spender Trust we’ve just launched a project that is very close to my heart. ‘Inclusive Outreach through Translation’ will develop, test and publish resources for using translation to make university outreach inclusive. This reflects my conviction that languages can be the most inclusive subject on any curriculum, and universities can play a key role in making that happen.
‘When learners become linguists': in May 2021 I was invited to write an opinion piece on the role of culture in language-learning for the MEITS project at Cambridge University. As so often, writing really helped me to formulate my thinking, and the resulting mantra of content-culture-community has become a kind of manifesto for creative translation and the role that it can play in transforming language learning and teaching in the UK. More soon!
In February 2021 I launched a campaign for the future of languages with teacher Oliver Hopwood and headteacher Ruth Wilkes. We are a multidisciplinary forum of linguists who a share bold vision for language-learning in England’s schools. You can read and sign up to our vision here: www.thefutureoflanguages.org/our-vision
2021 began with an email from one of the participants of our International Book Club for Schools. She had taken part in our July 2020 club (on Zoom), and was writing to tell us that she had got to know her boyfriend there, and that they were still very happy together. This was a lovely start to an otherwise challenging January, and further proof that sharing international literature is the route to true happiness.
One of the last things before Christmas was our International Book Club for Schools, when around forty 15-18-year-olds from across the UK came together on Zoom to discuss a book translated from French (Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda, tr. Adriana Hunter). This was our second book club for schools, and it’s now a termly event. Click here for more info.
December also brought the publication of the EAL Journal, the national publication of the subject association for EAL (NALDIC). My SST colleague Stacie and I were really pleased to contribute an article to their cover feature on multilingual storytelling. It’s a members-only publication, but I have put all the links that we referred to here.
In December 2020 I gave a talk about creative translation to a very engaged group of PGCE students at the National Modern Languages SCITT, and was really pleased to find that some of them had already engaged with our new Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators. “Our Year 7s loved every minute of the German poetry workshop.”
The 2020 Stephen Spender Prize was like no other, but we were so pleased with how it transferred into the virtual sphere. The awards event in mid-November was live-streamed and included lots of brilliant videos made by the winning and commended translators. The young translators are frankly incredible. This is my favourite. I also loved this short video made for us by the Mexican poet Pedro Serrano, whose poem was translated by one of the youth winners.
The end of September brings both European Day of Languages (26th) and International Translation Day (30th). Happy days! We chose this moment to launch the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators, a partnership between the Translation Exchange and Stephen Spender Trust. We were so pleased by teachers’ responses, with over 400 schools participating in our poetry translation activities and really positive feedback. My favourite: “The resources were amazing. Our students adored them! I thought that the video and its links to career with university students and translators were inspiring. We loved the contemporary relevance and the space for creativity.”
At the end of June 2020, I thoroughly enjoyed co-presenting a webinar on creative translation in the classroom, with inspiring MFL teacher and translator Katrina Barnes. We were bowled over by the enthusiasm and creativity of the 126 participants. Definitely keen to do another soon, and also to work harder to get teachers translating together IRL! Thank you to the London branch of the Association for Language Learning for inviting me and Katrina to speak.
It was a pleasure to judge the first ever undergraduate translation competition for the White Rose Project, in June 2020. This competition was in partnership with the Oxford German Network, which I co-founded in 2012 – good to be involved again! I’m a big fan of the White Rose Project’s director, Alex Lloyd, who does fantastic outreach work for German and the university. Check out this short film she made about a translation workshop with one of my favourite German poets, Ulrike Almut Sandig.
My last trip before the Covid lockdown was certainly a memorable one – to Manchester to give a plenary lecture at the national conference Language World (Association for Language Learning). A weekend with MFL teachers was always going to be a pleasure, and I came away buzzing with ideas and so impressed by the creativity and commitment of the teachers I met and heard presenting. My PowerPoint is here.
I subsequently wrote an article on creative translation in the classroom for Languages Today, the ALL magazine, which is available as a download here.
I was on the judging panel for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2019, a prize for book-length literary translations into English. The prize was awarded at Oxford Translation Day on Saturday 15 June.
In March 2019 we built a ‘Spectacular Translation Machine’ (STM) at the Bodleian library, as part of an event to celebrate the Babel: Adventures in Translation exhibition. The STM is the brainchild of Sarah Ardizzone and Danny Hahn and is a fantastic way of turning translation into a collaborative, public event. I am hooked!
In January 2019 the book Brecht and the Writer’s Workshop, which I co-edited with Tom Kuhn, was published by Bloomsbury. I also translated one of the dramatic fragments in the book, ‘The Real Life of Jacob Trotalong’, which Brecht wrote in the 1930s.
I recently published a Undergraduate Participation in German Outreach – Charlotte Ryland, with funding from the German Embassy in London.
In autumn 2018 I set up the Queen’s College Translation Exchange. This fulfils another dream – bringing together my experience of and contacts in the worlds of literary translation and academia, in order to support MFL teaching in schools and raise aspiration amongst young language-learners.
In February 2018 I took part in the ‘Brecht-Tage’ in Berlin, speaking about my translation for Brecht and the Writer’s Workshop (see above). This was a fitting end to four wonderful years as Postdoctoral Researcher on the Writing Brecht project.