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The Importance of Translation Services in Education

The Importance of Translation Services in Education

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

- Nelson Mandela

We can all agree that education is one of the most fundamental pillar stones in paving the way for the future. Whether we are talking about young, wide-eyed children, alert adolescents, hard-working college students, or even adults striving to learn a new skill, we all want the same thing:

A great quality education that helps us succeed.

But how can we achieve that if as a student, you cannot connect with your teacher or tutor due to a language barrier? Or as a worker in the education sector, you cannot communicate your message to students, staff, or parents? The answer is simple - by translation. Though in practice, it has its obstacles. 

What Is the Purpose of Translation?

Simply put, translation is when we convey meaning with words in one language and change them into another. 

Bilingual students are on the rise, so academic translation and bilingual education should be, too. Now with Google at the tips of our fingers, it seems as though translation has never been easier… but don’t be fooled. 

Translation is necessary for the spread of information, knowledge, and ideas. It is absolutely necessary for effective and empathetic communication between different cultures. (Exeter University) 

Can online automated translation services capture the essence of true meanings? What about phrases, colloquialisms, and expressions? And how well do they do when it comes to education? Or when one person is trying to understand and learn a new concept? 

Why Translation Is Needed in Education

The main goal of translation in the education system is to ensure that both teachers and students are understanding each other on multiple levels. That means translating much more than just words - students need to be able to understand the concepts that the teachers are sharing with them as well. In return, students should be able to ask questions, interact back and forth with their tutors so they can understand the content and more importantly, the context of what they are studying, English Language Learners ELLs whether that be coursebooks, study guides, presentations, worksheets, or even exams.


Engaging Parents in Their Children's Learning

About 20% of the U.S. population speaks a language other than English at home (American Academy of Arts and Science). Many parents who are raising bilingual children report that they feel frustrated that they cannot help them academically. Non-English-speaking parents in the United States, for example, feel a huge barrier in being part of their children’s education and, therefore, future. 

Translation in education can help parents overcome these barriers in many ways. Firstly, they can have a more active role in home study. They will be able to assist their children when studying and understand what it is their children are working on. 

Another way that translation can help parents engage in their children’s learning process is by giving parents the chance and ability to interact with teachers at parent-teacher conferences. This is such a huge part of parenting that many non-English-speaking parents have to miss out on. 

Then there are other more practical ways that translation can be helpful. For instance, in notifying families of any school closings or potential delays. It can also be very helpful with communicating curriculum requirements by keeping parents up to date and informed.

Research has shown us time and time again that we need parents to be engaged in their children’s education. When parents are active participants, students are much more likely to be more successful in their educational careers. Having translators for parents or guardians who are non-English speaking gives them the chance to be engaged in this vital part of their children’s lives.

Enhancing More Productive Educational Meetings 

We talked about parent-teacher conferences and how important they are for students, teachers, and parents. Now imagine when schools call for bigger meetings that involve a class, or a year group, or even the whole school. These in general are arranged to discuss important changes, upcoming events, or issues that directly affect the children. Think of a scenario where you have been in a school meeting recently. Maybe there are disciplinary rules or health issues that are being discussed, yet there is a significant number of parents who can’t understand a word that the school’s administrators are saying. 

These meetings become a source of frustration for those who can’t understand because they know they are missing important information. It is difficult for the staff holding the meetings because they are well aware that some parents can’t understand and they try to compensate for that. This, in turn, can cause issues for parents who do understand and these parents end up feeling a great deal of exasperation each time the meetings overrun since there is a lot of repetition and sometimes the main point of the meeting can be missed entirely. 

If you are the person responsible for organizing these meetings or delivering them you can feel an immense amount of pressure. Even with full planning, being totally prepared, and an expert in the information you are delivering, it is disheartening and deflating if it goes wrong due to circumstances beyond your control. The truth is that none of these educational meetings can be productive or effective without the intervention of an educational interpreter.

The Success of the Students

Teachers don’t just tell students the answer to questions. They teach them how to problem-solve. Teachers are providing students with important concepts that they will apply throughout their entire lives. 

If a student doesn’t understand a concept, then simply put; they won’t be able to apply it later. They haven't learned what they have been taught. Having life skills leads to better success in the future for students and having a fundamental understanding of lessons is essential.

For all students who are non-English speaking, or for those who speak English as a second language, misunderstanding can quickly become a big barrier. It is incredibly important to provide all students with the necessary translation needs to set them up for success now and in the future.

It is best practice if language conversion for students happens in real-time. This is because the students and teacher need the ability to translate languages in both directions simultaneously. Students instantly need to be able to understand the subject matter that is being taught, and then the teachers need to be able to understand the questions which students are asking.


Compliance with Legislation

Not many people are aware of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, never mind non-English speaking residents; however the legislation is very clear:

“No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” - The Civil Rights Act of 1964

Following on from that, in August of 2000, the government introduced Executive Order number 13166: Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency into current law. This law focuses on translation and makes it a requirement of federal agencies to examine current services that are being provided. They then will need to identify if there is still a need. If there is, federal agencies develop and put in place a system to provide those services.

Empowering Teachers and Educators

The number of students in the US who are registered as English Language Learners ELLs (Students who are not proficient in English) is at 10.1 percent, or 5 million students
(National Education Center for Statistics), and this can present a number of difficulties for educators. 

According to the National Education Center for Statistics the average class size in public schools is 25 children; this means that statistically speaking, in every single class, there are two children who do not understand English proficiently. This poses a huge challenge to teachers. 

Classroom teachers, in general, receive very little training in how to accommodate these English Language Learners within their classrooms properly. It can be very challenging to address the needs of English Language Learners students within the same classroom as native English learners. They can each differ in their own first language and then again, with the degree of their English language skills.

Better Student-Teacher Relationships 

A trained educational interpreter plays a critical role in ensuring that a non-native-speaking student can build the best relationship with their teacher or tutor. An educational interpreter should make the flow of information seamless. 

In the beginning, it can take some getting used to, but over just a short period of time, the teacher and student shouldn’t feel the presence of the educational interpreter. Instead, the discourse of conversation should be made to feel direct. The educational interpreter is not there to teach the child, only to facilitate the communication between teacher and student, building on their relationship.  

Translation Services

There are many translation services available online that offer people great options when it comes to translating pieces of text, and many are free. Students have easy access to them and often use them in everyday life already. However, machine translations have many limitations. 

Why Can't Students Just Use Free Translation Services?

Well, of course, they can. However, the software does not take into consideration the association of words or the cultural and social context of a conversation.

Remember what we mentioned before about small changes we make as natives, such as colloquialisms, idioms, or even slang? So, having these small variations in translation can make a really big difference.

For example, in Spanish, there is a very popular phrase:

No tener pelos en la lengua

If you put this into a translation software, it will say:

Without hair in your tongue

Doesn’t make much sense. However, the actual meaning of this phrase is:

To be outspoken

A little different from the offered translation. The problem is that these tools will translate word for word, but they can often become confused by idioms or complex phrases. Now think about teaching algorithms, Planck's quantum theory, or studying Shakespeare or Hemingway.

Using free software can leave the final translation incomplete or, at worst, extremely inaccurate.

Person to Person Translation

Having a translator who is professionally trained and qualified to translate for you in real-time will allow for the cultural background to be considered. A person is not only able to navigate complex sentences but also convey emotion in ways that a computer program or free software cannot.

Using a professional translation service, whether that service is in-person, or through a video conference such as zoom or skype, or even over the phone, will always ensure that idioms, expressions, slang, and colloquialisms aren’t missed. 

Another essential tool for bilingual language is the dual programs that offer students the opportunity to learn in a bilingual environment that help students that are not English proficient but also helps students to learn another language.

It will also ensure that the correct tone, emotion, or cultural respect is shown in any circumstance.


The Translation Company Group

The Translation Company delivers quality, care, and understanding in every project offering a range of services that are tailor-made and adapted for the education sector. The Translation Company guarantees 100% satisfaction on all of their projects and has been in the business for over 15 years - they know exactly how to deliver a fantastic service.

Whether you are looking for that person-to-person translation, typed work such as newsletters and announcements, or perhaps as a parent, you want support in helping your children. You might even already be in the education sector and looking to develop your practices; they can help you.

With offices in the US in Frisco, New York, Dallas, and San Francisco and internationally in China and Brazil, they cover various areas and time zones. Offering translation services in over 200 languages with a huge range of subject matter experts, they will be able to assist you in all your educational translation needs with outstanding quality and service. You can contact them here for more information, and a friendly member of their team will be in touch with you to discuss further.


The New York Times becomes the third Publication to terminate Spanish News.

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States. Thus, it makes sense that news publications and channels serve the Latino community by providing news in Spanish. However, recently The New York Times announced that it is terminating its Spanish news coverage, becoming the third new outlet to do so after Buzzfeed and HuffPost. They cited that the Spanish news outlet was not financially feasible after running for almost three years. The Spanish publications created by Buzzfeed, HuffPost, and the New York Times were all done so in response to Trump being elected as President after he constantly insulted Mexican immigrants. While there has been woe regarding the termination of The New York Times en Español, a recent study discovered that there are currently “624 Latino news outlets nationwide” catering to almost “20 percent of the US population.” Studies also show that bilinguals fluent in both Spanish and English prefer to consume their news in English and more than 80% did so in 2016. There are also publications who are creating avenues for the inclusion of Spanish news and editorials. What is your opinion in this matter? Click on the link below to read the full article!


The Repercussions of Incorrect Grammar on Social Media

Imagine being an influencer on social media. Imagine having the ability to sway opinions and having millions looking up to you. Many would argue that this is a great responsibility. However, do influencers also have a responsibility to be grammatically correct when posting on social media? Should they have impeccable vocabulary? While the general public may not be paying keen attention, there is a certain amount of policing that keeps an influencer’s grammar in check. The anonymous social media account, @englishbusters is notorious in pointing out Indonesian influencers using English incorrectly on their social media posts. However, @englishbusters can be “snarky”and “provocative” in their call-outs which can be embarrassing, especially for an influencer who doesn’t speak English as a first language. While the article focuses primarily on Indonesia, it also claims that there is a need to use English on social media sites by young influencers because they consider English to be “the successful language.” While Academics agree that correct grammar and an excellent vocabulary can make a huge difference in marketing, influencers should also not have to adhere to strict grammatical rules, especially if English isn’t their first language. More attention should be paid to the content of a post. What are your thoughts on social media influencers and accurate grammatical rules in English? Click on the link to read the full article! 


Cognitive Thought and Language

Many of us are fearful of old age. We are afraid that we’ll lose our ability to do things effortlessly and swiftly. However, research proves that a person’s command over language increases and becomes better with age; continuing well into old age. The article by Professor Roger J Kreuz from the University of Memphis explores the works of esteemed author Toni Morrison and recognizes that she was 84 when she published her last book in 2015, four years before she passed away. Professor Kreuz also presents different studies in his article that compares the vastness of vocabularic knowledge between college students and adults living in old age homes. Researchers have also found a connection between diseases such as dementia pertaining to the decline of language in older adults. While Professor Kruez claims that “Toni Morrison’s writing remained searingly clear and focused as she aged,” there are other authors who don’t have the same command on writing and that isn’t because of a lack of skill at an older age, but signs of illnesses in cognitive thinking. Click on the link to read the complete article!


Not Understanding Hurricane Dorian’s Danger Due to Language

It is already a nerve-wracking experience to immigrate to a new country with your family. It is especially daunting to be a student who has traveled all alone to study in a new place. Often students coming to study in North America are used to different customs and have to adjust to a new lifestyle. Many times, language is a barrier also. Recently, international students at Cape Breton University in Sydney, Nova Scotia were unable to comprehend the safety procedures that the University followed in order to be safe from Hurricane Dorian. That was partly because of the language barrier, and partly because safety procedures are followed differently in different countries. International students didn’t understand how severe the storm could be because Canada requires a certain amount of “personal precautions” that citizens need to take, which internationals students haven’t done before. However, there are measures being taken to increase effective communication between the city and its new members, and to help international students gain an understanding of the safety precautions instigated by the University and the Province. Click on the link to read more!


Could Language be the Problem Solver of Fake News?

Have you ever been caught in a whirlwind of news and wondered if what you’re reading is accurate or not? There is a plethora of questionable information available to the consumer and it can be a hassle to swift through factual information versus fake news. However, recent studies show that language may be a determining factor that can filter out incorrect information or forgery. Fake News on the internet has a certain language pattern that it uses continually and is often emotional in tone. For example, there may be an excessive use of the second person pronoun “you” or the superlatives “most “or “really.” In order to validate this hypothesis, experts analyzed articles by Jayson Blair, who was found to be plagiarizing at the New York Times in 2003. Even though there isn’t a clear answer to entirely eradicate false information from the internet, experts believe that language can help immensely. Click on the link below to read the complete article by David Shariatmadari to learn how you can recognize patterns in language that can help you filter out the fake news to what is factual and true.



Air Canada has been ordered to pay $21,000 due to dispute with French Couple

Recently Air Canada was sued by a French couple for language violations. They claimed that Air Canada was biased towards English and anglophones when compared to French speakers. Their main concerns were the signage used by the airlines that had words in English “in larger font than the French ones.” As a result, Air Canada has been ordered to pay $21,000 to the couple and provide them with a written apology. The couple hopes that this case will result in Air Canada giving equal importance to both languages for their signs in the future.


Habits & Customs that Completely Confuse Other Countries

Customs vary from country to country and foreign visitors are often left perplexed by the cultural differences. It’s easy to assume that because we celebrate certain traditions, everyone else does too. Whether these are annual holiday routines or country-specific cultural habits, every family has a few strange practices they’re used to.

Just look at tea. It’s seen as a stereotypically renowned British pastime, typically presented in ornate chinaware with a saucer. Cross the English Channel over to France, however, and the British would have a heart attack after seeing the French habit of drinking tea from a bowl.

Our infographic explores the way customs and traditions differ from country to country.

Use the following embed code to add this infographic to your website:

Additional examples:

  • United Kingdom | Confusing Sing Taps - The UK is a modern country at the forefront of engineering, yet unlike most countries around the world, many sinks have separate hot and cold water taps. This means that visitors need to carefully navigate both freezing and scolding taps at the same time!
  • United States | Tax Not Displayed - To the confusion of many visitors to the USA, prices for most items are shown without tax, while the rest of the world includes it in the listed total price.
  • Australia | The Bush - Australians tend to refer to any large area of land that contains plant growth as the “the bush”, while most others differentiate between grasslands, woodlands and forests.
  • Turkey | Camel Fighting - In Turkey, spectators take delight in watching two camels fighting, but unlike cockfighting, the animals don't get hurt. Even still, agitated camels often discharge sticky, foul-smelling saliva very accurately.
  • Fiji | Your Every Day Drink - Guests to the Pacific island of Fiji are served strange earthy cocktail made from squeezing plant roots. The concoction is called Kava and is considered a narcotic in many countries.
  • Spain | Snatching the Goose - The Day of the Geese is a tradition in Spain that sees a greased goose tied high above a body of water, with young men competing to rip its head off in a show of strength.
  • United Kingdom | Law Abiding Citizens!? - Britain's are notorious for their drunken antics while abroad, so visitors often find it a stark contrast of behavior at how rigorously the majority of the British public treat the drink driving laws.
  • Venezuela | Late Eaters - People in many Western countries tend to eat dinner relatively early, typically between 5pm and 7pm. South American countries like Venezuela tend to eat much later in the even, often between 9pm and 10pm.
  • United States | Cars That Actually Stop - Visitors to the USA are often surprised by how respectful drivers and pedestrians act towards pedestrian crossing. Heavy fines for drivers who don't show that respect, will have that effect. Western visitors in particular, will find the roads in Vietnam very unusual. Due to the small number of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, visitors are left to cross the roads in whatever manner they can, while hoping cars will stop!

The Greatest National Mottos Translated

To the outside world, national mottos are often used to describe the intent or motivation of the country in a short phrase, but they’re also intended to bring enthusiasm and a sense of patriotism to the people. National mottos can also have a deep meaning, often representing what a nation stands for or strives for, which is why you can find national mottos included on a country’s coat of arms, coins or banknotes.

Our infographic explores a number of countries and their choice of national mottos translated, from the Roman Empire’s ‘’Roma Invicta’’ meaning ‘’Unconquered Rome’’, to Moldova’s ‘’Limba Noastră-i o Comoară’’ meaning ‘’Our Language is Our Treasure”.

The Greatest National Mottos Translated

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Worlds' Most Translated Books

The best books have the power to touch people on every corner of the earth, not just the country they're written in, allowing readers to expand their horizons and discover new cultures and different ways of thinking. But if these books are to be enjoyed all around the world they need to be translated into different languages first.

To celebrate World Book Day we've created an infographic that takes a look at 50 of the world's most translated books, from The Alchemist (first published in Portuguese) to Wolf Totem (Mandarin). We hope that the list will inspire you to open your mind and find a book that speaks to you, whatever your mother tongue!

For a full list of the sources used to create this infographic please take a look at this Google Doc.





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