At one high school the exercise of translating poetry develops biliteracy in students as they learn to not only translate but express the ideas in poetic form in English.

Translating Poetry Develops Biliteracy in StudentsAt Grandview Heights High School, students translated The Most Beautiful Cemetery in Chile, a book of poems by Chilean poet Christian Formoso, as part of a workshop on poetry translation led by Otterbein Universy English professor Terry Hermsen and Horizon Science Academy Spanish language and literature teacher Sydney Tammarine. Hermsen and Tammarine published their translation of the same poetry recently.

“I’m really excited about translation and the nature of bilingualism,” Hermsen said. “I want students to see that their own literacy can be enhanced by learning and working with (a foreign language).”

The high school students came from English classes, and had to be studying a foreign language, although they did not need to be fluent.

“We thought it would be interesting for the kids to have an idea of what translating poetry is all about,” said English teacher Joe Hecker. “It’s a complex and creative process. It’s not just a simple, direct, word-for-word translation. There’s a lot of nuance in deciding how to translate the original language into English without losing the overall meaning.”

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