Each year the European Commission runs a translation competition for senior students in schools and colleges across Europe. All EU member states are invited to take part, which numbers 28 different countries. The Commission's Directorate-General for Translation has organised the Juvenes Translatores contest every year since 2007.
Applications opened for this year’s competition on 2nd September 2019. On 21st November, young linguists from across Europe were simultaneously tasked with translating a text online on the topic of what young people can do to help the future of Europe. They could translate between any two of the EU's 24 official languages, so 552 possible language combinations. Schools chose up to 5 pupils to take part.
The number of schools taking part depends on the number of seats each country is allocated in the European Parliament. There are a maximum of 751 schools offered the opportunity, with 73 of these based in the UK.
On 30th January 2020, the day before the UK left the EU, European Commission translator Paul Kaye visited Canford to give pupils studying languages an insight into the working world of a translator. At the end of his talk, Paul made the exciting announcement that three Canfordians had received recognition in this year’s Juvenes Translatores. Catalina Taylor and Lottie Thomas were both commended for their translation work from French to English and German to English respectively, while Oliver Hutton, who translated from Spanish to English, was proclaimed the overall winner of the entire UK competition which saw 313 entries from schools across the country.
The total number of entries across the EU was 3,116 from 751 schools. Most students in the UK translated from Spanish (113 students), French (97), German (46), Irish (13), Italian (11) and Polish (5) into English. Seventeen students translated out of English into a different EU language, and two students chose combinations not involving English.
As his prize, Olly is offered an all expenses paid trip to Brussels for a special awards ceremony on 7th April, where he will have the chance to meet the winners from the other 27 countries. During the visit to the Belgian capital, students will have the chance to meet professional translators from the European Commission's translation department and talk about working with languages.
Paul Kaye was delighted to be able to give the Canford pupils the news in person: “It is a very fine achievement to receive a commendation in the Juvenes Translatores, so Lottie and Catalina should both feel extremely proud of their excellent translation work. To win the overall competition in the UK against linguists from across the country demonstrates the exceptional talent that Olly has for translation work. I understand that he is holding a conditional offer at Oxford University to read Law with Spanish and wish him every success for his forthcoming exams. We look forward to seeing him in Brussels in April.”
Fran Compan, Head of MFL and Spanish at Canford, was equally full of praise for the Canford pupils: “We are delighted with the news and very proud of our pupils’ performance. This is a great success for us. Languages are thriving at Canford with about 150 pupils taking IGCSE exams yearly, and around 70 studying them in the Sixth Form, most of which go on to study university degrees that involve foreign language learning in some capacity. It is wonderful news for three of our Pre-U students to have been recognised for their translation skills in this renowned European Commission competition, and for Olly he is likely to be the last UK pupil to win for this country. His translation was truly exceptional. It was also very interesting to hear Paul Kaye talk of the value of learning languages, and the employment opportunities which open up to young people as a result of these skills. The UK leaves the EU on 31st January, but at Canford we will continue to strongly advocate the many benefits of studying Modern Languages which are essential for so many career paths. The UK will, no doubt, require many more skilled linguists post Brexit. Despite common belief, only 25% of the world’s population has the ability to communicate in English.”