A winner for each EU country was selected from among more than 3 000 students in total who sat the contest last November. The number of entrants was up by more than 400 compared to last year and was the highest since the launch of the contest in 2007. The winners will be invited to Brussels on 27 March to receive their prizes and to meet translators at work in the Commission.
“This contest encourages students to get to grips with foreign languages in a deeper way and to consider using their knowledge in their future career, whether as a translator or in any other professional field where multilingualism is an asset," said Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth. “The contest also inspires schools to learn from each other and try out different methods of language teaching.”
The winners all demonstrate that a knowledge of languages can take you further and open your mind to new possibilities.
The German winner, for instance, wanted to go to a music school in Hungary, so as well as perfecting her skills on the flute and piano, she also learnt to speak Hungarian. The Romanian winner wrote a biophysics paper which was partly based on technical English source material which she translated herself. With her knowledge of French, German, Dutch, English and Spanish, the Luxembourg winner truly embodies her country's multilingual tradition.
Natalia Grima speaks four languages and plans to graduate as a lawyer specialising in European Law. She aspires to eventually work for the EU institutions and lists photography, travelling and swimming amongst her leisure pursuits. She will have two-thirds of her hobbies catered for next March when attening the award ceremony in Brussels.
The contestants all translated a one-page text based on their choice of any of the 506 language combinations possible among the EU’s 23 official languages. Although many chose English as a source language, the total number of language combinations used was 148, which was the highest since the launch of the competition.
The theme of this year's texts was volunteering (to mark the European Year of Volunteering 2011), but each language test featured different facets of the subject: the Dutch text, for instance, focused on restoring a church in Tuscany; the French translation paper focused on beach cleaning, the Polish one on working in a Chilean school for under-privileged children. A number of the teenagers who sat the contest in different countries were clearly inspired by the volunteering theme, with some deciding to enrol as volunteers for the Red Cross and other NGOs afterwards.
The ‘Juvenes Translatores’ (Latin for ‘young translators’) contest is organised every year by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Translation. It is open to 17-year old sixth-form students (this time for those born in 1994) and takes place at the same time in all selected schools all over Europe. The contest ran for the first time in 2007 as a pilot project to give young people a taste of what it is like to be a translator and to raise the profile of language learning in schools.
That year the Maltese winner was Thomas Bugeja, and like Grima, was a sixth-form student at De La Salle College. The contest has encouraged some of the entrants to take up language studies and to become translators.
The Commission's translators prepared the texts for the contest to ensure the same level of linguistic challenge and also marked the results. Each translation was assessed by native speakers of the language into which the text had been translated.
Androulla Vassiliou's website