Beijing Students Learn Through Translation

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A group of young students at Western Academy, an international school in Beijing, finished off the school year with a memorable project: translating a series of children’s books into Chinese to be professionally published.The students, all around 10 to 11 years old, translated 8 illustrated children’s books with stories describing the day-to-day lives of kids in other countries.

As Wang Biao, of the Peking University Press Department of Chinese Language and Linguistics, which will publish the Chinese editions of the books, explained to China Daily:

“Our target readers are those children who are learning Chinese both in China and overseas…By describing children’s daily lives in different countries these books give a simple and vivid introduction to the cultural and historical features of the four countries.”

As they translated, the children encountered difficulties that would be familiar to any professional translator. One student, Lau Tin Sun, described these obstacles for China Daily:

“In the beginning, we thought it was really easy, but when we actually started translating, it was not as easy as we thought. English has a completely different grammar compared to Chinese. Therefore, it took us quite a lot of time and energy to change the grammar. But it was truly amazing to see the books in print. Publishing books during primary school, this is really a good memory.”

You might expect that the children would need help from a professional translator to produce a finished product capable of holding its own on bookshelves around the world, but you would be wrong. According to Peking University Press’ Deng Xiaoxia, the students’ work stood up quite well on its own:

“The kids’ translation is “amazing”, as the words they choose are “childish but interesting” and appeal to young readers – compared to the words used by professional translators.”

Congratulations, kids. K International salutes you!

Photo Credit: Lori Ann