In Spoken English class, I like to use the story “You Are Special” by Max Lucado to do a translation activity. The story is at an appropriate level for my students, challenging but doable.
Here’s what I do: First, I introduce the story and then read them the English version, showing them the pictures and giving out “star” and “dot” stickers to go along with it– it’s amazing how excited college students still get about getting stickers! After I finish the story, I put the book away and tell them that now they’ll have the chance to read the story in Chinese. That’s when I distribute this PDF worksheet: 你很特别- You Are Special
After they have about 5 minutes to read the story for themselves, I inform them that they’ll be working in 12 groups today to translate the story back into English. Then they divide into groups, I assign each group a part, and they set to work.
When the groups are all finished, I ask them to practice reading their translation to each other with good expression and intonation. Finally, I ask one representative from each group to come stand in front of the class and read their work in the order of their story parts so the whole story is roughly pieced back together. We complete mistake corrections as a class and usually have a few good laughs at some ways things were translated. It’s a great activity that’s worked well term after term. Students are working hard but don’t seem to mind because they enjoy the story.
Note: There are also some links online like this one where you can download a PPT with the Chinese version of the story which is nice to post as the groups read their translated works at the end. This allows the whole class to view the pictures and focus on the portion of the story that’s being translated.
Here’s a preview of what the two-page worksheet looks like: