International certifications: To translate or not to translate?

Sue Orchard

Posted by Joan Phaup

Scoring techniques, test delivery options, item generation and the intricacies of translating tests into different languages were among the many subjects covered during the Association of Test Publishers’ Innovations in Testing Conference last month.

Curious to know in particular about issues relating to test translation and localization, I spoke briefly with  Sue Orchard of Comms Multilingual about her perspective on the conference:

Were there any particular themes that emerged about translation and localization?

More and more organizations in North America are looking at taking their certifications international. One of the main themes is whether these certifications and any related training and marketing materials need to be translated or not. Some organizations have decided to leave their materials in English. My response to that would be: Are you testing people’s knowledge, skills and abilities or are you testing their knowledge of the English language?

What are the key elements that make for a high-quality translation?

Preparation is absolutely key in ensuring a successful outcome. When creating exams, tests and assessments in the first place, it is important to write these with translation in mind. You should avoid jargon, complicated sentences, overcrowding of the text on a page and many other things. If the exams, tests and assessments have not been created with translation in mind, then this can cause problems during a translation project.

What do you look for in validating a translation?

It is very important to follow specific process steps to ensure the validation of a translation. The actual steps to be taken will vary from client to client, depending on their own capabilities, such as the availability of native-speaker Subject Matter Experts. When translating, localizing and adapting exams, tests and assessments, the steps to be taken will require much more work than for the translation of training or marketing materials, which just require translation into the language and proof-reading.

Going forward, what do you see as the key issues organization will face as they continue to expand their international and intercultural testing programs?

There are many issues that need to be considered by organizations that are looking to expand internationally. Should the exams, tests and assessments be left in English or translated? What about related materials such as training or marketing materials?

Should the certification remain exactly as it is in the original country, or should organizations attempt to get the certification licensed in the target market? Is the exam, test or other assessment culturally valid in the target country? Can it be localized and adapted or is it not suitable at all for people in other countries?

For more on this subject see the Q&A at the end of my previous post about Sue’s February 16 Questionmark web seminar on assessment translation and localization.

Valuable tips on assessment translation, localization and adaptation

Sue Orchard

Posted by Julie Delazyn
“Unprecedented interconnection.” Those are the words that Sue Orchard of Comms Multilingual, a professional translation services firm, uses to describe a world of Increasing global alliances and supply chains, in which assessments such as test, exams and certifications are administered around the world.

Last week Sue presented an excellent Questionmark web seminar about assessments translation, localization and adaptation (TLA), during which she explained the importance of carefully planning and preparing for TLA projects. She cautioned her audience about some of the pitfalls of translation – for instance the fact that a short sentence in one language can be a very long one in another – and shared some beat practice tips, too.

She also pointed out the need to consider cultural differences as well differences in language, and she lightened up the proceedings with some amusing examples of translations gone awry.

We’ve put slides from this presentation, Assessment Translation, Localization and Adaptation: Expanding the Reach of your Testing Program, on our SlideShare page and embedded them below, and you will find a brief Q&A interview with Sue here.

Web seminar: Assessment translation, localization and adaptation

Posted by Joan Phaup

“Please leave your values at the front desk.” This message, seen in a Paris hotel elevator, is among the many amusing translations that appear on signs and posters around the world.

We all chuckle over linguistic blunders like this one, but mistakes in translation, localization and adaptation are no laughing matter when delivering assessments to multilingual and multicultural audiences.

On Thursday, February 16, we will host a web seminar addressing this important subject: Assessment Translation, Localization and Adaptation: Expanding the Reach of your Testing Program

Sue Orchard

You can choose between two sessions:

The key presenter will be Sue Orchard, managing director and founder of Comms Multilingual, a professional translation services firm specializing in complex translation projects including test, assessment and exam content.

Sue will explain what it takes to ensure an assessment is adapted appropriately for target languages and cultures — something increasingly important as globalization continues to remove geographic barriers and open new economic opportunities. The session will also include some information about how Questionmark technologies can be used to aid translation management and multilingual assessment delivery.

I asked Sue for some details about her topic and what people can expect from the web seminar:

What will you cover during the presentation?

Translation, Localization and Adaptation is a bit of a mouthful so I will shorten it to TLA. In my presentation, I will be looking at the steps and processes which are necessary to ensure a successful TLA project. I will be examining some of the pitfalls and challenges with a TLA project and looking at ways to overcome these.

What are some of those pitfalls?

I think that the major issue is that TLA projects are usually an afterthought. People spend a lot of time and effort getting things right in the original language and then don’t allow enough time for the TLA element. Also, I think that it is very important that people think about future language versions when putting together the material in the original language.

Things such as text expansion, when materials are translated into languages such as Spanish and French, really need to be taken into account. French and Spanish can take up to 30% more space than an original English text, for example. Additionally, people need to think about how suitable their material is for translation. Are there a lot of items that can’t just be simply translated, but which must be adapted and localized first?

Is there one key piece of advice you give to organizations running multilingual assessments?

There are two key words that I would use: Preparation and Planning.

So many times the translation element of a project is an afterthought and everything has to be really rushed. This is when problems will occur. If you think about the amount of time it has taken to prepare and put together the original test, exam or assessment in the original language, then you can’t expect to have a successful translation project if you try to do things at the last minute. It is very important to allow enough time to ensure a successful outcome.

What do you hope your listeners will take away from your presentation?

I hope to give participants a guide to best practice when it comes to TLA projects. After my presentation, I hope that people will feel happier and more confident when it comes to translation projects and that they will know what needs to be done to ensure a successful TLA project.


For more details and free registration, choose one of links above