Whether you are running an enterprise-level business or a small, local nonprofit organization, education translation can benefit your clients.
Unlocking Knowledge Across Borders: The Significance of Education Translation in Diverse Industries
Especially for large corporations opening offices and launching products worldwide, translating educational materials can help bridge the gap for employees around the globe and customers in new markets. Not only does translated material ensure that your target audience has access to the information they need, but it also helps them feel included.
The Value of Education Translation
No two learners are exactly alike. We all bring our own experiences, which are shaped by our culture and the language(s) we speak. Our language skills and our cultural knowledge will affect how we learn and retain material.
Education translation helps to address this issue by providing material in a range of languages and formats so that we can learn in a way that is comfortable for us. Not only does it encompass the process of translating content into another language, but it may also include making content available in alternative formats for d/Deaf users or users with visual impairments.
Despite its name, education translation is not just for educational institutions. We are all living and doing business in an increasingly global world. Everyone, from startups to nonprofit organizations, may need education translation to reach their target audience.
As businesses expand, they often need to translate eLearning and localize relevant content. A software company that opens an office in Mexico City will need to translate employee training materials into Spanish. Before launching their product on the Mexican market, additionally to their software UI localization, they will also need to translate the educational content aimed at potential buyers of their software.
Of course, education translation goes beyond just translating the copy within a document. To truly address the audience’s needs, it is important to consider the cultural context and localize all elements, from graphics to imagery and colours.
Industries That Need to Translate Educational Content
Private Sector Enterprises and Workplaces
Businesses, both large and small, benefit from education translation on two levels.
First, translating your internal education materials into other languages allows employees all over the world to receive similar training delivered in a language and a format that works for them. As we have discussed before, when you localize L&D content for your staff, it has multiple benefits:
- Employees learn more efficiently in their language because they can focus on the content rather than their comprehension.
- Localized eLearning content is flexible so that employees can do training at their own pace in their time zone.
- It is also cost-effective, reducing or eliminating the need for travel, accommodation, and interpreting services for in-person trainers.
- Offering localized L&D content also shows your global employees that you are committed to their success, increasing engagement and employee retention in the long term.
- By translating your existing eLearning content, you can also ensure consistency at offices around the world so that employees in Tokyo, Cairo, and Chicago are all receiving the same information.
Translating educational material written for customers and users, on the other hand, can directly benefit your revenue. As we explored in an article about why training materials translation boosts revenue generation, offering material in a user’s preferred language has several advantages.
For one, eLearning materials are easily scalable, allowing you to support many customers without having to expand your in-language customer support team. If you are aiming for a first-mover advantage in a new market, having fully translated materials will also enhance the user experience and generate positive word-of-mouth.
Our client JSI Telecom found out as much when they hired us to localize their software and all related documents. Suddenly, they were in the running for new business because they were able to present a complete user experience in a range of languages, from the actual user interface to the answers they provided on RFPs.
As a technical writer from JSI explains, their previous translation strategy meant that “trainers trying to explain something in a different language would often get caught out with a mistranslation on the screen and have to apologize as they explained things.” By working with Art One, they have reduced cost overruns and been able to quickly turn around RFPs, which they describe as a “game-changer.”
Education Translation For the Public Sector
Many public sector entities, from the national to the local level, can make their services more accessible by translating educational content into languages spoken in the community they serve.
In Canada, strict requirements ensure that documents are available in both English and French, as per the Official Languages Act. Materials are translated into other languages, such as Arabic, Punjabi or Chinese, on an “as-needed” basis.
In the United States, many federal agencies translate content into a range of languages based on need. For example, the Federal Housing Administration recently launched an initiative to make more information available about government-ensured mortgages for borrowers with limited English proficiency. The initiative began with Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese and aims to add more languages as needed.
Increasingly, there is a need within the public sector not just to translate a document or an app but to translate all the supporting information. The FHA initiative mentioned above did not just translate forms such as loan applications. It also encompassed fact sheets, PowerPoint presentations, and other educational material designed to encourage informed participation in the program.
Public School Systems and Educational Institutions
In Canada, 12.7% of residents—4.6 million Canadians—speak a language other than French or English at home. Likewise, in the United States, roughly 10% of public school students are identified as “English learners.” In both countries, students who speak another language at home often have families who do not speak or read fluently in the language of instruction.
These students and their families benefit from education translation, especially when it comes to materials sent home from school, from permission slips for field trips to more complex documents such as IEPs.
Likewise, at colleges and universities in both Canada and the U.S., many students arrive with limited English proficiency and no local support system to help them adapt to a new country and culture.
Research has shown that these students are at a “profound disadvantage” when it comes to English proficiency, and universities are moving to support them by making materials available in commonly spoken student languages.
Translating educational materials can benefit students at primary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions. For example, Art One collaborated with Forward Vision Games to localize financial simulation games intended to help learners develop fundamental financial knowledge. By offering these games in various languages, we ensured that students with limited English proficiency could still acquire this knowledge.
Nonprofits and Community Organizations
Education translation is a critical component of translation services for nonprofits as well. Organizations that serve a diverse population need to communicate in their languages.
At Art One, we have translated educational and eLearning material for nonprofits and community organizations as part of our mission for Translation for a Good Cause.
For example, we recently partnered with Health Nexus and McMaster University on The Confidence Project. We translated COVID-related educational materials into 23 languages spoken in Canada, including three Indigenous languages. These materials are intended for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals at increased risk for serious illness and death from COVID-19 and who are excluded from all vaccine trials.
Similarly, we have worked with Autism Nova Scotia to translate curricula and eLearning courses on career development, workplace health and safety, communication, gender issues, sexuality, and other important issues for the autistic community and people with disabilities.
Education, Translation, and Accessibility
In every scenario discussed above, we want to note that d/Deaf, hard of hearing, and visually impaired individuals also need accessible learning materials.
What does this look like? For users with a visual impairment, it means ensuring that website copy and other assets are structured and tagged so that they work with a screen reader.
For d/Deaf and hard-of-hearing users, multimedia content, such as videos and audio, needs to have an accessible component.
For a podcast episode, this might mean a time-stamped, edited transcript that is easy to read.
For a promotional video, it might mean the inclusion of captions or subtitles, the use of a transcript, or both—depending on where the video will live.
Our article on Q&As of accessibility compliance testing goes into greater detail about what it means for web-based content to be accessible, as well as the regulations which govern accessibility in both Canada and the United States.
It is not enough to make your source language content accessible; if you offer content in multiple languages, you must ensure that it is also available to users with visual and hearing impairments.
Furthermore, we have found that other users, such as those with limited proficiency in the target language, will also benefit from access to transcripts, subtitles, and other elements of accessible content.
If your organization seeks a partner for future education translation projects, contact Art One Translations for more information. We have a team of expert translators and editors in common languages such as Canadian French, Chinese, Spanish, and German, among others.
We can also source translators for less common languages, including Indigenous and First Nations languages. In addition, we are experts at ensuring that translated educational material is accessible for those with vision and hearing impairments and compliant with prevailing accessibility regulations in Canada or the United States.
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