Another Idea for School Visits: Translation
Last week I wrote about my interest in doing school visits now that I have recently published books after a seven-year hiatus. Since I never stopped writing during that time, I am certainly qualified to talk about persistence in the face of unexpected setbacks.
In the course of writing that blog post, I realized that most of my school visits at the K-12 level were for Rogue, although I also spoke to community college classes and book clubs (including high school book clubs) about Gringolandia. There’s a reason for this. High schools typically don’t invite authors to speak the way elementary and middle schools do. A lot of this has to do with testing and the more structured curriculum at the high school level. Yet I enjoy speaking to readers at this level, as I used to be a high school social studies teacher and in 2017 taught a semester-long writing workshop to ninth graders at a high school in Brooklyn. And most of my published fiction — Torch, Gringolandia, Surviving Santiago, and the forthcoming Eyes Open — are for teen readers and are about topics they study in their social studies classes. All four of these are good books to read in a unit focused on the Cold War and/or human rights. Eyes Open also explores changing roles for women forced to work due to economic necessity and fighting for their right to be treated as equal to men. Many of my high school visits in the past have been to ELL classes, which tend to be less structured in terms of curriculum, as teachers adapt their instruction to the needs of each group of English language learners. Electives are also freer in allowing special events.
One of those electives is foreign language classes. Most high schools require students to take a non-English language in order to graduate. Students often don’t take these classes seriously, despite the clear benefits to knowing another language, and teachers have a big challenge to make the class interesting. Here’s where I can help!
In addition to my own writing, I translate books for children and teens from Portuguese to English. I’ve written a lot of articles on this blog about my experiences learning Portuguese and becoming a translator. I’m sure a lot of high school students would like to know what a translator does — it’s not the same as being an interpreter — and how to become a translator. Next month I’ll have a book to show them that they’d want to read, as it’s a graphic novel for teen readers as opposed to the picture books that I’ve worked with in the past. I would like to show students how my translation for Pardalita came about, why the book was selected out of hundreds of books published outside the U.S. or another English-speaking country, and what challenges I faced in creating the English version. And after Pardalita, I have another YA graphic novel translation in the works, this one set in Angola and one of the first books for young readers by an author from Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) Africa to be translated into English. Because the novel is set in the 1990s, during the Angolan Civil War, I had to do a lot of research, and I can also share my research process with classes.
For more information about my translation work, you can visit my page describing the books I’ve translated and their many accolades. I’ve also written about some of my presentations at book festivals and conferences, for instance here and here. If you would like to book a school visit on studying another language and translation for the 2023-24 school year, or would like a last minute visit for the current year, please use the contact form, or contact me on Twitter (@LMillerLachmann), Instagram (@lynmillerlachmann), or Facebook (Lyn Miller-Lachmann).