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Teachers' Workroom

  1. Translation as a Generative Construct for Lesson Ideas
  2. Flipping the Educational Script: Teachers as Learners
  3. “Qué Dice Aquí?” Building on the Translating Experiences of Immigrant Youth for Academic Literacies
  4. Found In Translation: Connecting Translating Experiences to Academic Writing

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Translation as a Generative Construct for Lesson Ideas

Author(s): A UCLA Design Research team led by Marjorie Faulstich Orellana


These are lessons that we developed in collaboration with classroom teachers to build on language experiences of children of immigrants, especially as translaters, interpreters, and language brokers. These lessons are designed to expand students' linguistic repertoires and apply them to academic literacies.

Support for the design research that tested these lessons in Los Angeles classrooms came from the Linguistic Minority Research Institute and the UCLA Academic Senate.

You may download the PDF version below for printing or directly browse the web version. The lesson plans also come with a companion Audio Commentary/ Video Clips that you can watch over the web, or download as a Quicktime video file.

Note: The first 17 pages are Teacher Lesson Ideas. These are followed by supplementary materials. Consider this when you print.

TranslationLessonPlans.pdf — PDF document, 2947Kb

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Flipping the Educational Script: Teachers as Learners

Author(s): Rosa Jiménez and Marjorie Faulstich Orellana


This short piece describes how teachers can use journals to learn about their students' translation/interpretation experiences. The authors write:

In order to build upon the skills students have, we suggest flipping the educational script to one of teachers as learners. This involves looking at what youth do in their everyday lives, and what experiences they have had. By asking about our students' translating skills in particular, we may see a rich repertoire of language experiences that could be built upon in our classrooms.

In our research we learned a great deal about translating by reading journals kept by students in our study. This was a key method we used to collect data, and we believe it is an approach that would also be useful in the classroom. Here we provide a journal entry by Jasmine, an 11-year old girl in Chicago, the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico.

When I went to the movie theater with my parents I had to translate an application for a credit for the movies and I had to read the application to my dad... it is easier to translate for my dad because he knows some English. I also translate to my dad when he was ordering the ticket the cashier asked how old was my brother and my dad asked me what the cashier was saying and I told him esta diciendo cuantos años tiene Gabriel and I said 2 years.

At first glance, errors in grammar and punctuation may seem to leap off the page. But what if we suspend these concerns about language conventions for a moment to take the stance of learning from students about their own lives?

APA Citation:

Jiménez, R. and Orellana, M. F. (2006) Flipping the Educational Script: Teachers as Learners.  California English Teacher.


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“Qué Dice Aquí?” Building on the Translating Experiences of Immigrant Youth for Academic Literacies

Author(s): Marjorie Faulstich Orellana


This paper describes how translation is not as a single kind of language practice but takes many different forms. But in all its forms, translating activities are practices that focus the speaker’s attention on language, and so they are ones that can serve as a rich basis for cultivating linguistic skills. This paper first describes the general patterns of translating documented among 5th and 6th grade students living in one community in Chicago, I provide some dissection of the practices and illustrate their demands. Finally, this paper probes two sets of implications for teaching and learning: (1) how adults can support children’s translation work, using everyday translation opportunities to support children’s language development; and (2) how teachers can build on children’s translation experiences to further their literacy learning in school.

APA Citation:

Orellana, M. F. (2006). “Qué Dice Aquí?” Building on the Translating Experiences of Immigrant Youth for Academic Literacies.  In Robert Jiménez and Valerie Pang (Eds.) Race, Ethnicity and Education.  Praeger Press.

035QueDicePP026.pdf — PDF document, 5144Kb

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Found In Translation: Connecting Translating Experiences to Academic Writing

Author(s): Ramón Martínez, Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, Mariana Pacheco, Paula Carbone


Writing activities aimed at leveraging the translating/interpreting experiences of bilingual students in a sixth-grade English language arts classroom provide an opportunity for these students to develop meta-linguistic awareness and showcase their ability to shift voices for different audiences.

APA Citation:

Ramón Martínez, Marjorie Faulstich Orellana and Mariana Pacheco. (2008). Found in Translation: Connecting Translating Experiences to Academic Writing. Language Arts, 85(6): 421-431.

This paper was originally published in Language Arts. The preprint manuscript version is included here with the permission of the authors. The original publication is available at

034FoundInTranslationPP025_R1.pdf — PDF document, 497Kb

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