A group of fifth grade students from the Western Academy of Beijing made the pages of national newspaper China Daily for their translation prowess. An article by Zhang Yue details how 17 students translated a series of picture books into Chinese from English. The 17 students are reportedly the first group of international students whose first language is not Chinese to translate a series of children’s books for publication.
One of the student translators, Lau Tin Sun, told Zhang, “In the beginning, we thought [translating]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 a really good memory.”
WAB’s principal, Geoffrey Andrews, expressed his admiration for the students’ prowess with translation. “I was amazed by how creative their imagination can be, and the stories are truly lively. We have been making continuous efforts to guide the students from practical language skills, and this time their work truly amazed me,” he told China Daily.
The original series of twelve picture books are by four Spanish authors and painters. The books tell the stories of children’s exciting journeys and lives in countries around the world, including India, Japan, Senegal, and the US. Though the series has twelve books, four of them were about the fine arts, a translation subject the students found challenging, so those were translated by the publisher, the Peking University Press.
The target readers for the books will be children all over the world who are learning Chinese. The Chinese-language editions will be available for purchase in the US and Europe later this year.
Photo courtesy of WAB