Another great Spanish Business Quarter event

On the evening of the 3rd of July, and just after the Tour de France parade passing through Millenium Square heandig the Leeds Arena grand gala opeing, Spanish Business Quarter  decided to celebrate their second event in Leeds in La  Tasca. This was a great occasion to share all the excitement around the Tour de France with all members of the SBQ community.
We had great conversations about our SBQ project and how it is growing interest in different communities. Our program for year 2014-15 will be ready end of Summer and there will be many new activities and participants enjoying from the experience. Participants were very happy to share their experiences in trading in Spain and North of England, challenges, opportunities and tips.
We had the opportunity to enjoy an amazing black paella (congratulations chef!)  and  a great performance of modern flamenco by the star of the event, our favorite dancer from the Northern Ballet, Matilde with Ana (in the picture with Blanca and Alejandro).

Old teachers, young learners…

I was a university lecturer for over twenty years and until recently I taught Spanish and, in particular, translating and interpreting. I had a clear goal to help my students become as proficient as possible both in the general use of language as well as in the specific skills of translating and interpreting.
As most teachers or lecturers know, it is vital to ensure material used for teaching is relevant to students. Effective teaching should start with a student’s prior knowledge and give them additional ways to extend, use, develop and apply that knowledge. But each new fact, concept or process introduced in a course should initially relate to the student’s previous experience so they can take it on board, conceptualise it and assume it.
In attempting to do this, lecturers sometimes get it wrong. We can make incorrect assumptions concerning our students’ prior experience, particularly when making cultural references to explain a point. I remember using a text for translation about alternative lifestyles which mentioned “hippies” and a reference to the Beatles and their song “Strawberry Fields”. Although I knew it well (and bought the record the day it was released!) my 18 year old students were not aware of this song, so failed to make any connections between the reference to the Beatles and Strawberry Fields and the main context of the text.

This, among other things, has got me thinking about the profound issue of the key role of communication and understanding between teacher and student. In fact, the question I consider most often these days is; why is it that older people teach younger people?
The answer might appear obvious. Older people have more knowledge, more experience, more skills, greater self-control (in general) than young people, and these are the things that younger people are supposed to learn.
But, as the issues of communication and understanding between teacher and pupil are so crucial, there are some key drawbacks to having older people teaching younger people, especially in a world which changes so rapidly.
In my case, my education began in the 1950s and I was at university in the 1970s.  Students I taught in 2013, who will graduate in 2017, will be fully immersed in their careers and society in general in the 2020s and beyond, 70 years after I began my initial education.
How can it be right or effective that someone educated in the past should prepare students for the future, for a world which will be so different, in ways in which we cannot even imagine? Why should someone like me use my experience to try to prepare students for a world which I cannot conceive, cannot imagine, do not understand and probably will not inhabit?
It’s unlikely that the young will ever be expected to teach the old. Perhaps the issue is rather, what should the old teach the young? How should the young be educated? Facts and information are available instantly through the internet and, anyway, they change constantly and rapidly. The knowledge a student gains on the first year of a science or technology degree can be outdated by the time they graduate. There seems little value in asking students to learn information or facts by rote if things change so rapidly. What, then, should education consist of?
Perhaps it is time to refocus on those timeless and universal truths that ancient civilisations were so keen to identify? Perhaps we should all learn about what it means to be human, how to understand and come to terms with ourselves and with others, how to locate, verify and apply information, how to understand the relationship between cause and effect? Perhaps there should only be one course at all universities, worldwide? BA/BSc (Hons) Learning to Learn?
Competent linguists may believe they have actually learned a foreign language, understood the rules of grammar and syntax, mastered semantics… But, as experienced translators know, if that were all there was to language, then machine translation would have been perfected many years ago… 
What good translators know is that when translating they employ a high degree of linguistic knowledge. But, even more importantly, they draw on a deep understanding of both historical and contemporary society, of technical, economic, social and cultural developments and of the human condition. Whatever your teachers taught you, as they were probably older than you, it is your job, your responsibility to select, adapt and develop, to relate and ultimately apply your learning to today, and to continue doing so for tomorrow – and the day, month, year after.
Graham Webb

El lenguaje de las manos

 Analizando el resultado de la flashmob sobre concienciación lingüística del pasado 31 de mayo, no he podido pasar por alto uno de los elementos más utilizados en la comunicación no verbal: las manos.
Cuando gente de diferentes idiomas quiere comunicar, necesita un lenguaje común para entenderse. En estos casos la traducción es una buena forma de comunicar.
En casi todas las conversaciones fotografiadas desde lo alto, se convierten en las protagonistas de los diálogos y en el centro de atención.
El lenguaje no verbal es una parte muy importante de la comunicación.
Albert Mehrabian estudió este lenguaje y encontró que en situaciones en que la comunicación verbal es altamente ambigua, solo el 7 por ciento de la información se atribuye a las palabras, mientras que el 38 por ciento se atribuye a la voz (entonación, proyección, resonancia, tono, etcétera) y el 55 por ciento al lenguaje corporal (gestos, posturas, movimiento de los ojos, respiración, etcétera).
Podemos afirmar que una flasmob tiene un componente altamente ambiguo, y a los hechos nos remitimos: no solo los flashmobbers tiraron del recurso de las manos para hacerse entender, sino también los paseantes que se enfrentaban al reto de comunicar sin saber el idioma en que le estaban hablando. En algunos casos la comunicación estuvo casi en el rango de la mímica, ese arte de transmitir las ideas a través de gestos.

Language Awareness Flash mob

Language awareness flash mob - spontaneous gathering of foreign language speakers starting conversation in their own language with people passing by - took place in Trinity Center last Saturday, causing short and amusing disruptions to the shopping day.
It was a great opportunity to make people aware of language barriers and intercultural challenges and at the same time show how many people in Leeds speak foreign languages and contribute to making Leeds a truly international city.
There was surprise in the people in the shopping center and reaction were most diverse. It was also the first time for the flash-mobbers, and here are some of their experiences: 

“I chose to speak in Basque. And I asked a couple where Primark was, and they decided to walk me to Primark so it was very interesting. They were extremely nice, I didn’t use a word of English, and they walked me all the way to Primark.”

“One guy even made a real effort to speak French “aaah…a gauche…aaah…a droite …then cross the road” It was really funny.”

“I think it’s interesting, cause you’re in complete loss when you don’t speak the language.”

“It was quite funny because then they started walking away because they thought that I was messing with them, but then I tried to insist, so I followed them saying “no, excuse me I really don’t understand” so they tried to make an effort to explain it.”

“The main impression was that I felt like a tourist.”
It has been a great experience that help to understand how people react to a language they don’t understand. The flash-mob was also an important event to let people know that there are many people speaking foreign languages in Leeds already.
Flash mobs have been performed all over the world and are a way of creating awareness on something that requires attention. The idea of gathering people, all of whom appear in public spaces, engage in a pre-arranged, organized activity and disappear suddenly. 

This was the first event on this matter, in a small scale and they will be definitely more! 

Interview with Adela Burgos, co-founder and associate of Contrapicado

            What is Contrapicado and how did it start?

Contrapicado are 3 moviegoers doing all kinds of activities related to movies and audio-visual arts. We are three friends who all studied something related to the audio-visual world. We got together to create a cultural association through which to disseminate short films in Guadalajara (Spain). We then diversified into training children and adults, and producing our own short films and short videos on demand.
          A start-up company from a small town in Spain that devotes time to encouraging culture, local activities and trade does not sound like the typical international company. However, just as an example, you always add subtitles to your short films and videos [something that TranslatorsVillage loves, of course]. Are there any specific reason for that?

We think that whatever we do is applicable everywhere, here and abroad. We want to give the opportunity to everyone around the world to understand our work. All our members have travelled quite a lot and even lived outside Spain, so we have friends, acquaintances and family around the world, which has greatly influenced our decision to do multilingual versions of our work. We started subtitling only in English to avoid having to upload a separate video per language with subtitles; but now there are ways to put subtitles in different languages ​​on one single video, something that we will implement soon, no doubt about it.

                 What challenges have you found to make your work understood in other languages?

We have been fortunate to have professional support. Our dialogues are generally quite colloquial and we would not have managed to translate certain expressions without the support of this person.

                 This is not the only thing you internationality, also you organize international festivals…

Yes, especially in the last year, we were invited to bring a couple of international events to Guadalajara. We found it very interesting to show in such a small town something being viewed simultaneously across the world and we linked the projects and organized both the festival Future Shorts as The Shortest Day. Both were run in different cities in Spain and across the world.
                  How did you communicate with all these festivals (in other languages ​​)?

The festivals are organized in other countries but have representatives in each country. In the case of Spain we are not the country organizers, so we've been fortunate to not have to deal with the language barrier: we received all instructions in Spanish.

                  TranslatorsVillage members have attended your festival and we know that many of the short films are in VO. What is your experience?

Yes, these organizations provide a selection of worldwide short films with different forms of filmmaking and they are all subtitled. We love watching subtitled original versions; being alternative cinema films plus countries with minority languages, these festivals make the subtitled version available. Otherwise they would be impossible to find. The audience likes them because they know it is an international event and they expect to have original subtitled versions.
                 What is your vision of the future?
We aim to continue growing so we can bring more innovative events and make exchanges with like-minded groups in other countries to promote short films and festivals. We plan to translate our webpages into English and French shortly.

More information at:

Patricia Alemany