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The Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators

30 September 2021

The Translation Exchange was thrilled to receive over 1,000 entries from young people across the country in the first year of the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators. Launched in September 2020, the prize aims to promote language learning across the UK by inspiring creativity in the classroom.

A report by the British Academy in 2019 stressed the “drastic and continuing decline” in the numbers studying languages at secondary school and university, with fewer than 50% of students taking a language (modern or ancient) at GCSE in 2019 (down from 76% in 2002). The report stressed that the decline in take-up “has had a disproportionately large effect on socio-economically and regionally disadvantaged groups, with disadvantaged groups within the state sector most affected”.

The Translation Exchange (QTE) provides teachers with the tools to bring translation to life and to introduce more authentic texts into the classroom, thus increasing the motivation and enjoyment of pupils and teachers alike. The Anthea Bell Prize culminates in a competition task, but also ensures that the prize can be integrated into the year’s teaching. To that end, the Exchange has published 48 teaching packs across French, German, Mandarin, and Spanish. Each pack enables a teacher to run a mini-translation workshop with their pupils, working together to translate poetry, fiction, or non-fiction.

When the Anthea Bell Prize launched in September 2020, the aim was to target 50 schools in the first year. By July 2020, over 700 teachers from schools in the state and independent sectors had accessed the resources. Feedback on the teaching packs from teachers has been overwhelmingly positive:

“We have had a brilliant time delivering these resources. Year 7 all the way through to Year 13 have engaged brilliantly and students have responded really well to the challenge. We loved it. The resources are so well thought through, so easy to use, and an absolute joy to teach.”

“I absolutely loved the themes, the resources and the activities. Plenty for teachers to use as such or tweak to their liking. And so different for the pupils but so easily accessible. Brilliant!”

“Excellent resources – engaging and interesting for the students. This is a great way to raise the profile of languages.”

The competition ran for the first time in June 2021, and national winners, area winners, and commended entries from 125 (majority state) schools were announced in July. All ten geographical areas were represented in the final list of national winners.

The competition will expand in 2021-22, with all registered schools invited to participate in as many languages and levels as they wish. The competition will also run for the first time from French into Welsh. Teaching resources aimed at pupils studying French at the beginning and end of Key Stage 3 are available in Welsh and English. Teaching resources on translating Italian poetry and fiction will be available for all levels and QTE hopes to add Italian to the list of languages for the competition.

Teaching resources will be distributed in autumn 2021 and early 2022. The competition will be open for several weeks in spring 2022.

Teachers can register to receive the first set of resources on translating poetry by completing this form. Further teaching resources will be available in early 2022 and the competition will run for several weeks in spring 2022. Teachers can also express interest in other opportunities from the Translation Exchange via this page.

Holly Langstaff

Photo: David Fisher

School pupils enjoying a translation workshop