Sunday, April 21, 2013

Young Interpreters Update

YI Conference 2012

For more about Young Interpreters (YI), see the posts of March 8, 14, 19, 24 and 31.

Now the latest issue of Young Interpreters Newsletter gives some updated figures. The number of known YI has risen from 169 to 225, with more still to be identified, and the number of languages from 36 to 39.

Since reading the above, the thought has obsessed me that the YI scheme has a significance beyond mere numbers. It marks a milestone in the recognition of Natural and Native Translation, namely the point at which translation has entered general basic education. Previous reports started with individual child translators. Then groups of school-age interpreters formed at isolated schools; several have been mentioned in this blog. The Canadian group called The Ambassadors described in 1993 and inspired by the earlier work of Mary Meyers in Toronto (see References) was perhaps the first organised, teacher-supervised body of schoolchildren interpreters reported, but still in a single school.

Now the YI scheme is spreading throughout a whole national school system, though there is still a lot of ground to prospect. And its emphasis is as much on what interpreting can do for developing the interpreters as on what they can do for others. For it to flourish, an approach to education is required that encourages activities over passive learning. (I’ve heard this mentioned as one of the differences between British and Spanish schools.) I’ve long thought that fluent bilinguals should be taught translating from a young age, the younger the better. This is the antithesis of the commonly held view that translation is a university-level subject, but then it doesn’t aim at the same kind of translating and it’s not held out as professional. Translating at school raises linguistic awareness and gives practice at a valuable skill, rather in the same way as singing in the school choir raises musical awareness and trains to produce music. Of course, as with any natural ability, there will always be an elite who are exceptionally good at it on the one had, and on the other hand a few unfortunates who have to live with an impediment; just as the school choir will reveal those who are potential opera singers and those who are tone deaf. But generally speaking, translating is beneficial for all fluently bilingual children and not only those who are exceptionally gifted. And bilingual children are too commonplace for them to be considered exceptionally gifted just because they speak two languages.

Source: Fairfieldsnews blog, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Translation has become an important aspect of the world for the exchange of information and ideas. That is great, the number of known YI has risen...