Online | Translation | Workshop

4-Week Translation Workshop: Translating Literature from the Mandarin Chinese

Literature in Chinese is not just about books from China. It’s also about Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Chinese-speaking diaspora around the world––and literature with such diversity needs to be seen by the international audiences.

How do we expand our understanding of the literature of many Chineses? How do we work on translation with the most crucial elements for Mandarin Chinese, such as translating names, four-character chengyu expressions, classical Chinese texts, and slangs coming from the many dialects and regional expressions?

In this four-week translation workshop, we’ll be reading translations from various Chinese-speaking authors and articles that address what it means to translate from Mandarin Chinese and the many dialects and regional/disappearing languages that are part of it. We will also address the many Chineses and how different ways of using Mandarin Chinese can inform our own translation process. Throughout these four weeks, we will also be looking at glossaries of chengyu, classical poetry and prose that often plays into literature written in Mandarin Chinese or beyond.

This workshop is to build a safe space for translators who are invested in translating between Mandarin Chinese and English. Each student will get a chance to workshop their translation, whether a new project or a work-in-progress. We will address major elements of translating from Chinese to English in great detail and let students share issues and challenges they have encountered in their own processes. We will also be introducing the publishing landscape and how we can pitch our translations to the English-speaking publishing world.

While you'll need to have basic reading knowledge in Mandarin Chinese to enroll in this class, there are no other prerequisites for taking this workshop.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  Note that you will not be able to view recordings of your class meetings if you miss them. For more information, please review our FAQ.


- Familiarity with challenges and techniques needed to translate works from Mandarin Chinese and languages that share a tie bond with the language.

- Space and time to generate new translation projects from Chinese, feedback from workshop peers and the instructor.

- Extensive knowledge about chengyu, classical Chinese expressions, how to read from classical Chinese.

- A safe place and community for you to grow as a writer/translator.

- Learning about the publishing landscape for works originally written in Mandarin Chinese.

- 30-minute one-on-one meeting with the instructor (optional)

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


This is a generative workshop, and every student will get a chance to submit their translation from Mandarin Chinese (up to 20 double-spaced pages) once, getting oral feedback from peers and the instructor. The translation can be a new project or a work-in-progress. Every week, prior to class, we’ll be reading 1-2 readings for in-class discussions. Translation exercises will be provided for translators to generate new ideas for new works.

This is a safe space to share your writing and projects. This is also a community where you don’t need to overly explain yourself. Let’s enjoy translating from Mandarin Chinese together, and think about where we’d like to bring our translations to!


Week 1: Translating from Mandarin Chinese and the many languages- Introduction

Week 2: Translating Names, Regional Languages, Slangs, and Dialects

Week 3: Translating Classical Chinese Texts, Poetry, and Chengyu

Week 4: Pitching Our Translation Projects from Mandarin Chinese- Short & Long

Jenna Tang

Jenna Tang is a literary translator based in New York. She translates from Chinese, French and Spanish. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Her translations and essays are published in Restless Books, Latin American Literature Today, AAWW, McSweeney's, Catapult and elsewhere. Her interviews are at World Literature Today and Words Without Borders. She is a selected translator for the 2021 ALTA Emerging Translators Mentorship with a focus on Taiwanese prose.


"Jenna Tang is doing incredible and important work as a translator and writer. She is so generous and always opens the door for others. Her work challenges the status quo and creates a space for resonant stories and writers to find many audiences and communities across languages and borders. She helps us see what is possible in the literary world and how to find our way toward it. I can't think of anyone I'd rather learn from more!"

K-Ming Chang Writer

“Jenna Tang works tirelessly and generously to promote literature in translation and to build community within the translation sphere. As a translator from Taiwan now based in the US, she moves fluidly between the cultures she translates from and to, probing the bounds of the English language and seeking out voices who have hitherto not received sufficient attention.”

Jeremy Tiang Literary Translator

“As a translator, Jenna is fundamentally a community builder. A bridge-builder on the page and within groups she crafts with sensitivity and nuance, translating not only between languages but complex identities and beliefs. Her work supports shared understanding through a profound respect for cultures and individuals.”

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere Writing Group Member

“Jenna is a thoughtful translator and creative spirit who works from multiple lineages and myriad inspirations, toggling between the minutest of details and big-picture issues in a text with ease. Warm and inquisitive, she's committed to community in all senses and brings passion and energy to every one of her endeavors.”

Mike Fu Literary Translator of Sanmao’s Stories of the Sahara

“Jenna made each one of us feel valued and comfortable during class. She was a fantastic teacher, genuinely enthusiastic about the subject. Her thoughtfully-prepared class discussions were directly applicable to my translation practice, and I am now a better translator because of it.”

Former student

"Jenna is a fantastic instructor! Her workshop was so engaging. She expertly mixed questions of languages, poetic, inspiration, and translation. That’s something I had been looking for a long time in a workshop. I learned new tools to write about languages. Jenna’s constructive feedback encouraged me to keep writing about languages and exploring migration in organic ways. The discussions resonated throughout my week outside the online meeting: I kept feeling engaged, researching, and writing."

Nadia Bongo former student