Bilingualism in the Classroom: ATA’s School Outreach in Action

With the demand for professional language services increasing, informing students about this fascinating career option is becoming more and more important. Why not help promote our profession to students in your community by making a School Outreach presentation?

This year’s ATA School Outreach Award went to Molly Yurick, a Spanish>English translator and interpreter based in Oviedo, Spain. She won free registration to ATA’s 56th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida, for a photo taken during her presentation to students about the importance of translation and interpreting.

Molly’s winning photo shows a group of eighth-grade students introducing themselves in their native languages with colorful speech bubbles. The hands-on art project was just one of the activities Molly prepared for students at the Instituto de Educación Secundaria Cuenca del Nalón in the city of La Felguera in northern Spain.

An article in The ATA Chronicle about 2014 School Outreach Contest winner Jenny Stillo originally sparked Molly’s interest in School Outreach. “It looked like fun,” she says.1

Connecting with a
 Multilingual Audience

Molly selected this particular school for her School Outreach visit because of its bilingual program, where part of the curriculum is taught in Spanish and another part in English. The students in the class Molly visited had multicultural and multilingual backgrounds—hailing from Romania, France, Morocco, and Russia—and for quite a few of them, Spanish was not their native language. In Molly’s eyes, this was another reason why her presentation would spark her audience’s interest.

Molly also liked the teacher’s creative and open approach to teaching. He was immediately excited when she suggested a school visit to talk about translation and interpreting. Together, Molly and the teacher considered the best-suited age level and brainstormed an idea for the photo.

After gathering ideas from the wealth of material and activities available in the School Outreach section of ATA’s website (, Molly decided to prepare an original presentation geared specifically toward the students she would be visiting. For the first part of her presentation, she introduced the students to the work of translators and interpreters and showed them in what fields they usually work and specialize.

During the second part of her presentation, Molly put the students to work. She showed them real-life examples of not-so-accurate translations from English into Spanish, to which the students reacted with bursts of laughter. Molly then cleverly entered the original text into Google Translate and had the students evaluate the results. She then asked them for ideas on how to fix the translations. “They translated too literally at first, but in the end they got the hang of it. I was very proud of them,” she says.

Using a Hands-On Activity to Promote the Profession

For her planned group activity, Molly asked students to write “My name is…” in their native languages, which included Spanish, Romanian, French, Arabic, Russian, and the local dialect, Asturian. She noticed that not all of the students were able to do so by themselves and needed help from their parents. For instance, a boy from Russia and a boy from Morocco could not write the Cyrillic and Arabic characters of their native languages. Molly remembers that one boy came back to school with the entire Arabic alphabet and got a kick out of writing all of his schoolmates’ names in Arabic.

While creating their own speech bubbles to use in the photo will stay in the students’ memories as the best part of the presentation, Molly’s favorite part was when a student came up afterward and said that he wanted to become a translator. Molly says another great moment was when students realized that “they could do a better job than Google Translate with a little bit of practice.”

A Long-Time Promoter of Multicultural Education

Molly is a native of Minnesota and double-majored in Spanish and global studies at the University of Minnesota. An additional certificate in medical interpreting helped her land her first job as a language professional.

Later on, Molly applied for the Cultural Ambassador Program in Spain and managed to get an assignment. She liked it so much that she continued reapplying (successfully) for open positions, which gave her the chance to assist local English teachers all over Spain. At the same time, she started her translation career as a part-time freelancer.

For the past five years, Molly has been living in Asturias, Spain. Since the beginning of 2015, she has been working as a full-time Spanish>English freelance translator specializing in translations for the tourism, hospitality, and airline industries. She has taken several classes on the culture and history of Spain, which has helped her build her professional portfolio in these fields.


From left: Molly Yurick accepting her award with School Outreach Committee Members Anne Connor and Birgit Vosseler-Brehmer during ATA’s 56th Annual Conference in Miami.

Join the School Outreach Effort

As winner of the School Outreach Contest, Molly received free registration to ATA’s 56th Annual Conference in Miami in November. As a conference first-timer, she was very excited to take advantage of this opportunity and make new contacts in the field. In the end, her successful visit to share her profession in the classroom brought her to a valuable—and fun—educational event of her own at the conference.

Now it’s your turn to promote the language professions to future generations and possibly share your experiences with your fellow colleagues at the next ATA conference. The 2015–2016 School Outreach Contest is now open for photo submissions. The winner will receive free registration to ATA’s 57th Annual Conference in San Francisco, California, November 2-5, 2016. For more information, visit

  1. Vosseler-Brehmer, Birgit. “Reaching Out to the Advanced Placement Classroom: ATA’s School Outreach in Action,”
 The ATA Chronicle (February 2015), 17,

Birgit Vosseler-Brehmer is a member of ATA’s School Outreach Committee. An ATA-certified English<>German freelance translator based in Germany, she specializes in technical and business management translation. She also enjoys marketing and creative translations. Contact:

Tell Us Your Story!

Please share your past and present School Outreach experiences with us! Whether you decide to enter the contest or not, ATA’s School Outreach team would love to hear from you. Please contact Meghan McCallum at with a description of when and where you presented and let us know about your memorable School Outreach experience.

Enter ATA’s School Outreach Contest Today!

Visit ATA’s School Outreach Resource Center at and click on Presentation Resource Materials.


The ATA Chronicle © 2023 All rights reserved.