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Career Day with 5th Graders at Poolesville Elementary

Profile Jerelyn Bouic

Poolesville Elementary School held its annual Career Day Event on May 19, 2014. Each presenter was asked to give a 15-20 minute presentation on their profession to groups of six to eight fifth graders in three different sessions.

We were given a general format to follow as the children had worksheets and needed to answer specific questions about each profession. For example, Introduction: explain how you became interested in the field, what a typical workday is like, and what kind of studies are required.

In addition to this basic information, I discussed the following:

  • I explained what translation is and what it is not (i.e., interpreting).

  • Since I am a Spanish-English translator, I asked the children to identify Spain on small globes they had on their desks. We talked about how the Spanish language spread from Spain to Latin America and other countries, just like English spread from England to the United States.

  • I introduced the children to the concept of regional differences in language, using differences in their own language as examples (British English vs. American English). I did this by asking them to guess the meaning of common words which have a different meaning in British English (e.g., car bonnet vs. car hood, boot vs. car trunk, etc.); many of them were very surprised at the different meanings and few of them guessed correctly.

  • Elaborating on the concept of regional differences, I explained how translators producing Spanish-language documents for the United States need to be aware of all the different regional variations used by their audience. I referred the children back to the globe and the many different countries where Spanish is spoken.

  • Finally, to wrap things up and end the session on a fun note, I had 8 infamous translation "bloopers" printed on 3x5" cards. The bloopers were taken from signs around the world and were mostly funny and/or nonsensical. I handed out one card to each child and asked them each to read their card aloud. Next, I had the children guess what the intended meaning might be. The children came up with wildly different and funny guesses. For example, in two of the sessions, they suggested that the blooper "flesh juice," which should have been "fresh juice," meant food for vampires.

    Each blooper gave me the opportunity to briefly highlight an aspect of translation; i.e., the need to proofread and correct typos, the need to be aware of connotations of different words, the need to not translate literally, the dangers posed by incorrect translations, the need to take care not to be offensive or rude.

Each session ended with a brief Q&A session.