Headington School

Comic strip

Students were given a blank strip from the comic Paper Girls and were asked to fill in the speech bubbles in groups. Their objective was to look carefully for clues in the images that could translate into speech, such as where the strip is set and what action is taking place, the relationship between the characters, their expressions, the size and spacing of the speech bubbles, etc. 

Translating poetry: Rilke Shake

This workshop involved a two-part leap of faith: students who had never worked with Portuguese found themselves not only translating from it but translating poetry to boot – all in two hours, or less. We discussed what makes poetry poetry, and we established a ‘poetry translation toolkit’ to apply in all circumstances. Then we experimented with whole-group translation of a poem, ‘Rito de passagem’ from Brazilian poet Angelica Freitas’ collection Rilke Shake. Discussions included how we could translate Freitas’s queer politics and how Brazilian nosey parkers can be recreated in English. Finally, having gained confidence, students or pairs of students ventured their own translations of another of Freitas’ poems, ‘Fim’. The results are dazzling: already students are finding their voices as poets in translation.

It's all Portuguese to us! (Part 1)

During this workshop we demonstrated that foreign languages are not codes that are entirely closed off until you’re ‘fluent’. In fact, students are pretty good at understanding and translating from Portuguese, though they may not think so. 'It's all Portuguese to us!' is all about giving students confidence to dive into the linguistic unknown and dare to find a way, even without previous knowledge of the language, simply by making the most the clues provided by the context and by the languages they do know.

Part 1 of this workshop drew on a scene from the popular Brazilian telenovela Avenida Brasil to introduce strategies for translating any language one doesn't officially know. Students picked out names of things they recognised; words that were similar to words they knew in English or other languages; question signs; structures that are similar to sentence shapes they knew, etc. The result was a series of nuanced translations from Portuguese that would stand students in excellent stead for the principal activity of this workshop. (See Part 2).

It's all Portuguese to us! (Part 2)

During this workshop we demonstrated that foreign languages are not codes that are entirely closed off until you’re ‘fluent’. In fact, students are pretty good at understanding and translating from Portuguese, though they may not think so. 'It's all Portuguese to us!' is all about giving students confidence to dive into the linguistic unknown and dare to find a way, even without previous knowledge of the language, simply by making the most the clues provided by the context and by the languages they do know.

The principal activity from this workshop drew on a scene titled ‘Tufão pede Monalisa em casamento’ (Tufão asks for Monalisa’s hand in marriage), from the Brazilian telenovela Avenida Brasil. Having discussed the various ways they could make sense of the Portuguese text, from picking out similar words and finding structures familiar from other languages to making sense of punctuation, proper nouns and exclamations, students were given the text of the script only, to try to brave their way to as complete a translation as they could manage. Only at the end of the workshop did they watch a clip of the show and see how well they had understood and translated the text.