Languages translate to success for Perse pupil

Natalie Ronco (Year 11) exhibited tremendous translation technique to enjoy success in a prestigious language competition.

Organised by The Queen’s College, Oxford, the Anthea Bell Prize for Young Translators is inspired by the late renowned literary translator and aims to encourage youngsters to go further with modern foreign languages.

More than 3,200 pupils across the country entered the competition and Natalie was the national runner-up and East region Level 3 champion in both Spanish and Mandarin, having had the challenges of translating part of a story from those languages to English.

She said: “You could choose from a piece of fiction, non-fiction or poetry and I picked the fiction for both language categories.

“You were allowed to use an online translation tool, such as Google Translate, to help and they also gave some of the possible translations for words, so you could choose which ones you think make it sound the best.

“It was trying to figure out what would be the natural way for the piece to read in English translation because if you literally translate from Spanish, it sounds strange. With Mandarin, it was more about trying to convey the feeling and get the overall sense of characters.

“I was very surprised to have won, especially in both languages, because a lot of people entered, but I really enjoyed doing it.”

With Spanish, Natalie developed a love for the language after taking part in an exchange trip to Madrid in Year 8.

She said: “I’d only been studying Spanish for two years then and it was quite tricky, but you learn how people actually use words day-to-day rather than what you get taught in school.

“For example, I discovered Spanish people often put -ito at the end of words to make them sound cuter!”

Natalie has even read novels in Spanish, including Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and plans to continue studying the language at A level and beyond.

She said: “My goal is to become fluent in Spanish. I’d love to go travelling and maybe study a degree which includes a year in Spain.”

Meanwhile, Natalie’s interest in the language of China began after joining the school’s Mandarin Club in Year 8.

“I really enjoyed that, so I thought I’d try it in Year 9 to see if it was something I would want to study for GCSE,” she said.

“It’s really hard to start with, especially with the characters. They are different to how you speak it, so you have to learn things twice.

“I’m definitely better at Spanish than Mandarin, but it’s such an interesting language with a long history and I’d really like to go to China at some point.”


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