The Translation Exchange trains university students to become ‘Creative Translation Ambassadors’ and run creative translation workshops in schools. We also produce resources for teachers to use in the classroom, and virtual workshops for young people to access from their homes.

The Creative Translation Ambassadors scheme trains university students to deliver workshops to pupils aged 8 to 18, either in the classroom or via virtual platforms. With an emphasis on translation as a creative, inspiring, and inclusive activity, these workshops channel the students’ expertise in translation and enthusiasm for language-learning and literature into enriching literary experiences for young people from primary age upwards. 

As an Ambassador I had the opportunity to connect with young minds and experienced authors, having the honour to form a bridge between the two. Knowledge grows by sharing; the more I have talked about my experience with languages, the more I have learnt from others as well.

Jasmine, German and History

To date we have trained students at:

  • University of Oxford
  • University of East Anglia, in partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation and the National Centre for Writing
  • University of Sheffield, in partnership with the Dutch Foundation for Literature
  • University College London, in partnership with the Dutch Foundation for Literature
  • Durham University

The British Centre for Literary Translation has worked closely with QTE for a number of years now. We are grateful for the expert advice, guidance, materials, teaching and support given, which has allowed us to run our own successful annual Creative Translation in Schools programme with local young people.

The ambassadors receive training from practitioners experienced workshop delivery, teaching and professional literary translation, including Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (Translator and Stephen Spender Trust [SST] Associate), Rahul Bery (Translator, SST Associate, former British Library Translator in Residence), Lucy Rand (Translator and Editor, SST Associate), Charlotte Ryland (Director, Translation Exchange & Stephen Spender Trust) and Stacie Allan (Stephen Spender Trust, Translator from French).

The ambassador scheme in Oxford is run in partnership with the Oxford University Department of Education. PGCE students in Modern Languages actively take part, organising workshops in their host schools, and training our undergraduate Ambassadors on classroom management.

QTE creative translation workshops encourage pupils to work creatively and collaboratively with languages, as they translate text in languages they may not know and come up with inventive solutions in English. As well as being exposed to inspiring literary and cultural content, pupils have the opportunity to interact with our student ambassadors, who are passionate advocates for languages. Through the Creative Translation Ambassadors training programme, participating undergraduates and postgraduates develop and practise numerous professional skills, including presentation and public-speaking, teamwork, leadership and negotiation. It also connects the students to their local community and fuels a civic mission to support widening participation and language-learning. 

Past workshops have proved incredibly diverse: translations have included illustrated classics such as Le petit Nicolas (Goscinny-Sempé) and Eloísa y su bichos (Buitrago-Yockteng) as well as I Limoni by Italian Nobel Laureate Eugenio Montale and Classical Chinese poetry.

In 2023-2024, we piloted a sustained version of our Ambassadors programme in five schools. Pairs of Ambassadors worked with the same class over three sessions, elaborating their creative translation and practicing critical and reflective skills on their own translations.