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School Outreach Profiles

Kerstin Trimble

Year-long Translation Project with German Language Students

I am not only an ATA-certified German-English translator but also a German teacher and was therefore able to do an intense, year-long project that introduced students to the art and career of translation. This project was carried out in Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia and included several German programs in the county.

I had creative writers in my upper level German classes sign a publishing contract and write creative pieces in the foreign language. When they were done, they swapped their short stories, poems, anecdotes and fables with a peer, and the translation process began.

The students learned a lot about translation (and how much further their own creativity and skills can take them in the process of literary translation than the omnipresent, enticing, instant gratification of Google Translate that is literally always at their fingertips.)

I included a number of other German teachers in this process, and after several months of writing, translating and creating artwork, I published their book "Stimmen aus Fairfax" with a festive party at the Fairfax Central Library so that in addition to the students, their parents and the community was also exposed to the project. The World Language Coordinator for Fairfax County was present at the ceremony, and once we had him all fascinated and excited about the book and its contents, I was able to make an educational policy point in favor of translation in World Language instruction (since using or teaching translation has almost become a taboo in world language instruction today...).