Brentwood School super linguist Chloe O’Connor has won a national competition aimed at promoting language learning across the UK and inspiring creativity in the classroom.
Eighteen-year-old Chloe is one of just 24 national winners in the Anthea Bell Translation Competition, run by The Queen’s College at the University of Oxford.
The annual competition is inspired by the life and work of the great translator Anthea Bell.
Over 14,000 students from 260 schools participated in the competition in 2022 and over 3,200 entries were submitted, with a team of undergraduates and professional translators judging entries.
A proud Brentwood School Head of Chinese, Mrs Jing Rodgers, said: "Teachers from all over the UK submitted their students’ translations of poetry, fiction and non-fiction in French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish, covering all year groups at secondary school from age 11 to 18.
"More than 30 Brentwood School pupils participated in this competition in the Chinese, Spanish, French and German categories.
"Whilst we have previously had a student whose work was highly commended, this is the first time we have had a national winner!"
Chloe translated two, separate, extracts from a Chinese non-fiction novel by Chai Jing about 'left-behind children' – children who stay in rural regions of China whilst their parents leave them to find work in the major cities – into English.
The two extracts she translated were chosen by the competition organiser.
Mrs Rodgers said: "Chloe is an exceptional linguist with a real passion for the language and the culture.
"Her Chinese level is close to a native speaker's proficiency.
"Her outstanding knowledge and understanding of literature has helped her with her Chinese literature studies and translation."
She continued: "Her translation flows well and elicits the same emotional response in the reader as the source text does in its readers.
"Her Chinese language skills and understanding of Chinese literature are rare as a non-native speaker of her age.
"I am extremely proud of her!"
Chloe said: "I feel very privileged to have had many opportunities to study and immerse myself in the Chinese language and culture as they are both incredibly vibrant, and so different from the language and culture I grew up around.
"I hope competitions like the Anthea Bell Translation Prize encourage more students to take up another language, Mandarin or otherwise, and to understand modern foreign languages not just as a school subject but as a tool with which to understand other people and the world we live in."
Across the six strands of this year’s Anthea Bell Translation Competition, judges selected 24 national winners, 20 national runners-up, 182 area winners and 216 commended entries.