Newcastle Castle is a familiar Tyneside landmark … or should that be Newcastle Castillo or Châteaux or Schloss?

Well, it probably depends on where you’re from and what language you speak. But with 50% of visitors to Newcastle Castle coming from aboard, the tourist attraction decided it was time to give their foreign guests a better experience.

The castle decided to provide information – as well as audio-guides – in a number of foreign languages, prompting the monument’s learning officer David Silk to contact Newcastle University’s School of Modern Languages to see if they could help.

28 Newcastle students have now taken part in recording new audio guides in French, German, Portuguese and Mandarin Chinese.

David Silk said, “We’d done some research and found out that 50% of our visitors were from outside the UK so we wanted to improve what we had on offer for them.”

“We wanted to work with an organisation where this project would be useful to them as well as us. The university had translated some leaflets for the castle a few years earlier so we got in touch.”

Newcastle University languages lecturer, Dr Angela Uribe de Kellett, said, “I was thrilled to hear Newcastle Castle were looking to have their audio-guide translated.”

“We are always on the lookout for possible opportunities for our students to try out their translation skills and to link them up with local organisations. But to do it for such an emblematic building of Newcastle was just fantastic.”

Matthew Cummins – who is in his final year of studying French and German – translated parts of the audio-guide describing the castle’s King’s Chamber and various historic artefacts.

Matthew said, “It was great to be able to take the skills I’ve learned in my course and to use them in a real way.”

“I’m from Gateshead and being able to use my language skills to help do something positive for a local landmark made it an even better experience.”

The audio-guide translation was done as part of the Real Translation Project, a programme run by a group of Newcastle University lecturers and student volunteers.

The Real Translation Project – which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year – helps charities and community groups translate documents into various languages.

The Project has worked with the National Trust, translated documents for local primary schools, and provided language support for human rights lawyers.

Dr Uribe de Kellett said, “These real-life projects are an excellent opportunity for our language students. They volunteer for various reasons, but many are keen to enhance their CV.”

“A good number have gone on to work or to do further studies in translation and one Erasmus exchange student even set up her own translation company after taking part.”

(Featured image courtesy of Gerald Murphy, from Flickr Creative Commons)





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