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Translator gate

Instructions are never in your language, are they? Explore world languages in these international games and activities.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
  • A4 paper
  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Six different stamps (These could be the colour/pattern of the flag of a country that uses the language)
  • Guidance printouts, as specified in the instructions
  • Online translating tools, where needed
  • Adult helpers with knowledge of a language, one per base

Before you begin

  • Devise and set up three to six bases around your meeting place, indoors and outdoors as appropriate. Each base should run a game or challenge in a different language, and have the game or challenge be something popular in a culture that uses that language. You may need to plan and prepare some things the week before.
  • See how many game or challenge sheets you’re going to need, how many and which helpers you’ll need to run bases and whether you’ll need an online translating tool. A decision should also be made on how difficult the bases should be. Open this up to the whole group and agree on how much of each language should be used, and also whether this should include slang, dialects or idioms.
  • Prepare the following printouts for guidance: Camping gas safety, Hand hygiene poster, Allergy guidance and Food safety in Scouts.

Run the activity

  1. Set up anything that hasn’t already been set up. Assign each helper to their base. Young people should get into groups and each group should help to set up at one of the bases.
  2. To start the challenge, each group should shift around to the base to the right and start the activity.
  1. Groups should attempt each activity base in the language this game would be played. Instructions should be provided in written form and spoken by the activity base leader or helper. If groups get stuck, they should use an online translating tool from a computer or phone, or a pre-prepared cheat-sheet.
  2. When each group completes an activity base, they should get a stamp on their hand or a sheet of paper, to confirm that they’ve completed the challenge and explored a new culture.
  1. Continue until everyone is back at the base they helped set up. If there’s time, they can try this activity too. If not, add up any points scored and declare a winner.

Sample list of activities

You will need

  • Aluminium foil
  • Matches
  • Bucket of water
  • Fire-lighting materials
  • Bowls
  • Chopsticks
  • Marbles
  • Chinese (Mandarin) symbol cheat-sheets
  • Pizza ingredients
  • Utensils
  • Pan
  • Dominoes
  • Playing cards
  • Scarf or necker


Everyone had to summon up all their knowledge of different cultures and languages in this challenge. What other clues, other than the instructions, were there at the bases to help you see what the activity was about? For instance, did the equipment give you any clues?

At the same time, it was important not to jump to any conclusions about the activities. Just because something from another culture seems like something you know from your culture, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the same thing. Why is it always important for us to take the time and read what others have written or hear what they’ve said, even if it’s in another language? Think about respect and humility.


Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Contact games and activities

Make sure everyone understands what contact is acceptable, and monitor contact throughout the activity.


Teach young people how to use cooking equipment safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Make sure it’s safe to use and follow manufacturers’ guidelines for use.

Fires and stoves

Make sure anyone using fires and stoves is doing so safely. Check that the equipment and area are suitable and have plenty of ventilation. Follow the gas safety guidance. Have a safe way to extinguish the fire in an emergency.


Check for allergies before you begin. Make sure you have suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

Phones and cameras

Make sure parents and carers are aware and have given consent for photography.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.