Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Young Interpreters (2): The Emmbrook School

Emmbrook Young Interpreters
 Back in 1995, a Canadian schoolteacher and I co-authored a paper about an organization of bilingual pupils who had formed, under teacher supervision, a corps of interpreters to serve their fellow pupils and the staff in an Ottawa school (see References). They called themsleves The Ambassadors. Since then, there were reports on this blog of students acting as interpreters in their schools (for an example, enter bayley in the Search box on the right), but I hadn't seen any about an organized corps. Until recently, when the following report from England caught my attention. It came from a school at Wokingham. Wokingham, in case you don't know it, is an affluent town just west of London. Last year, The Telegraph newspaper rated it "the best place in England and Wales to bring up a family."
"Help is at hand for Mandarin, Punjabi and Thai speakers at The Emmbrook School from newly-qualified young interpreters.
"In a borough first, nine bilingual pupils at the Emmbrook Road school have qualified in a Hampshire County Council scheme that will help new arrivals settle in and help arrange international visits from prospective parents and pupils.
"Jana Crichlow, Ioana Gurau, Knight Anumat, Daljinder Hansra, Anna Xue, Benjamin Elison, Haiyang Huang, Nuyam Limbu and Sharvaree Puranik are all excited to have taken on the roles.
"The talented teenagers are skilled in a range of languages from across the continents, including Romanian, Icelandic, Hindi and Nepali."
Clearly Wokingham, for all that it's a historic market town, hasn't escaped the 'bilingualisation' of Britain and its multicultural conversion that were described in the first post of this series on March 8. As for the school,
"The Emmbrook School is a co-educational comprehensive school for students between 11 and 18 years of age. There are around 1,378 students at the school, with nearly 200 in the Sixth [the highest] Form."
My curiosity was further piqued by the interpreter badges that the students seem to be wearing in the photo, and even more by the mention of them having "newly qualified." So I contacted the staff member in charge of training the group, Pat Richards, who is a Higher Level Teaching Assistant. She told me,
"Young Interpreters are a new venture for us. We are currently training a small group of sixth formers."
and she put me in touch with the Hampshire County Council scheme mentioned in the report.

It was at that point that I realised I'd only been looking at the tip of the iceberg.

To be continued.

  • Jon Nurse. Bi-lingual Emmbrook pupils qualify as interpreters. Getbracknell, 25 January 2013. The report is here.
  • James Hall. Wokingham is best place for young family. The Telegraph, 1 October 2012. The article is here.
  • Carolyn Bullock and Brian Harris. Schoolchildren as community interpreters. In S. E. Carr et al. (eds.), The Critical Link: Interpreters in the Community. Papers from the 1st International Conference on Interpreting in Legal, Health and Social Settings, Geneva Park, Canada, 1-4 June 1995, Amsterdam, Benjamins, 1997, pp. 227-235.
 The Emmbrook School website is here.

Source: getbracknell


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  2. A really great and interesting post...I think their should be more "programs" like this because it can be very helpful for fellow pupils, e.g. if they've just moved from another country and are kind of new and don't speak the language very well at that moment. Furthermore, it can also help the young interpreters to take their first steps in a possible job career as translators or interpreters. If you have a similar problem like the pupils moving to a foreign country but more an "adult-problem", e.g. a business negotiation abroad, use a interpreting service.

  3. Thank you, Anonymous, for your balanced comment. There's more to come, including something about a possible career.

  4. Thank you, Natalia, for your comment. However, this blog doesn't accept advertising.