Celebrating Language Diversity at Charter Academy

Friday 22 March 2024 saw nearly 70 students at Charter Academy coming together to take part in a ‘Celebrating Language Diversity’ event run by EMAS and the University of Portsmouth  and based on a project run previously by Sarah Bawa-Mason and others as part of the Translation Nation Project 2010-2014.

As students entered the theatre, they were greeted by MFL trainee teachers from the university and each given a card printed with the word ‘hello’ in a language from around the world. The students had to do their best at having a go at saying the word and finding another student with the same language. These students then sat together at a table. Each table ended up with six or seven students and two trainee teachers.

Once settled at their tables, students were encouraged to say hello and to introduce themselves in a language that they knew and everyone else on the table had a go at repeating the language. The room came alive with different languages being spoken on every table!

The next part of the session focussed on which strategies can be used to enjoy a story in a language that you don’t understand. Tanya Riordan, from the University of Portsmouth, nearly sent the students to sleep with her short rendition of a story in French before introducing them to a range of strategies to bring the story alive. The students were able to identify a number of strategies used, from visuals, to colour coding, to use of voices, actors and props.

Marie Allen from EMAS then introduced the notion of translation: what it means, why we do it and why translated stories are so important. The students did a fantastic job of completing the translation quiz. Would you know for example, which wizarding school from Harry Potter is translated into ‘Poulard’ in French?

Students that can read in their first language had been identified prior to the session. These students were used as storytellers for their group. Using only their first language (and the strategies previously identified by the students), the stories were shared and the table worked their magic to decipher what the story was all about.

The afternoon session saw each and every student produce their very own book. They became translators and created a translated version of the story that had been shared with them. Some students made books in English, some in their own first language and some even made books in the language that they are learning at school! One pupil – whom we suggested might want to be a translator in the future – recreated his story with his very own rhymes!

A truly wonderful experience, enjoyed by all involved. The Assistant Head noted that ‘He heard students’ voices that day that he had never heard before.’ and a couple of quotes from the trainee teachers involved included: ‘What a lovely day Friday was, I thought it was such a well-run, well-thought out event by Tanya and Marie and what a great initiative that was really well received and enjoyed by the pupils. It was uplifting and inspiring to be part of.’ And ‘I think the student reading his story in Farsi to us all and the others on our table so enthusiastically turning into a book (from a story they understood not one word!) – 2 of them even wrote it in French – will stay as a memory from the PGCE course forever.’

For more information, please contact:

Marie Allen
Email: [email protected]

Tania Riordan
Email: [email protected]

Sharing research on linguistic minorities

On 26 June 2023, Eva Mikuska (University of Chichester) delivered a research paper for the School of Education, Languages and Linguistics at the University of Portsmouth. This paper reported on the research carried out in Serbia among Hungarians who are not just ethnic minorities but also linguistic minorities.

Their language has almost no linguistic similarity to their host nation’s language, therefore the paper reported on how this group of people develop, and maintain the minority language in a multicultural context. To illuminate different understandings, data was analysed using ‘dialogical self’ and positioned as a fruitful approach for analysing personal and cultural positioning.

Eva’s research more broadly looks at identity formation through the use of language. For more information, please contact Eva Mikuska at [email protected].