Delivering assessments in multiple languages: What are your options?

Jim Farrell HeadshotPosted by Jim Farrell

Test publishers, businesses and other organizations that operate internationally or have multilingual audiences need to provide a consistent experience for  all participants, regardless of what language they speak.

I’d like to explain how we at Questionmark can help you achieve this and the options we offer to suit differing needs – whether subject matter experts are generating content in many different languages or you need to have existing content translated.

The interface of Questionmark Live, our browser-based authoring tool, is translated in more than 20 languages. SMEs from all over the world can create content easily, in their preferred language.

But what about localizing content you already have, and keeping track of questions in multiple languages?

Our Translation Management System provides translation interfaces, project management and workflows that make it easier for you to manage and deliver localized content to participants all over the world. You can author and translate once, schedule once, deliver your assessment in many different languages and present all the results together — in a single data set. This is very useful when doing item analysis. For example, if you have students taking a test in English and in Spanish. You can do analysis on the questions together, not as two different versions of the question.

There are two different ways to translate:

The first is by a translation/localization company. This is particularly useful when you have a large amount of translation to do or if you are using many different languages. You can export the content as an XLIFF file and send it to your translation for processing, This is a logical choice for organizations that are delivering dozens of multilingual exams and have hundreds of items in play. Once your files come back to you in your choice of languages, you can import the translated assessments back into the Translation Management System.

For smaller projects, you might rather have translators use the Translation Management System directly. It displays the base language of the question, options and feedback and provides an area for someone to go in and translate. This is very efficient for not only translating content but also for updating and localizing translations.

Once you have multilingual content, how do you deliver it?

Here, again, you have options: Let’s start with the participant interface. You can present Questionmark assessments in 30 different languages – including those that read right-to-left, such as Arabic and Hebrew. You might be saying, “Wow, 30 languages!” But you also might be saying, “Well, mine is not in the list.” If you are that group, you can provide you own translations.

When deciding how to present your content, you can allow participants to select the language they use, or you can force the language selection in the link to the survey, quiz, test or exam.


Assessments can be scheduled for delivery in a specific language, or administrators may allow participants to select which language they prefer to take the assessment in.

Providing different ways to manage multilingual assessments reflects our commitment to helping customers who need to reach participants in many different places, from different cultures.


Try out our multi-lingual assessment:

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.

Arabic Interface Now Available in Questionmark Live


Posted by Jim Farrell

As we have been making translations for the Questionmark Live interface, one language high on our list has been Arabic. However, we did not want to go half way and release an interface where, yes, the language was translated but remained in a left-to-right format. We wanted to release the entire package: an Arabic translation of Questionmark Live in a right-to-left interface — and we are pleased to have achieved that!

Below are two screen shots of Questionmark Live for Arabic users. Click on each picture to see a full sized view of the Questionmark Live interface in Arabic.

Questionmark Live Welcome Screen in ArabicQuestion Set List in Arabic

Click here to use your Questionmark Live account, see a demo or try it out.

(If you have never changed the Questionmark Live interface to display in another language, click on the Account tab and then select a language setting.)

Multilingual authoring and administrative software

john_smallPosted by John Kleeman

I’ve described in a  previous post how Questionmark makes it easy for authors and administrators to create assessments in multiple languages, so that participants can choose the language of the assessments. I’d like to share today how Questionmark allows those same authors and administrators to work in their language of choice, rather than having to see screens in English.

International use and translatability have always been important to Questionmark. We’ve been translating our software for 20 years, with Questionmark for DOS having been translated into several European languages in 1991. We used to make separate versions of the software for each language, but having separate versions makes it harder to keep language versions up to date, so now we make our software multilingual.

Our most frequently used software for authors and administrators today is found in Questionmark Live and Enterprise Manager, and both of these are now available in multiple languages.

Questionmark Live, our authoring software for subject matter experts running as a service, has always been available to use in multiple languages. We’ve just added Arabic support, and currently authors  can see the software in a selection of 16 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish or Swedish.

Enterprise Manager, our software for scheduling, administration and reporting, is also available in multiple languages. German and Dutch have been released, and French and Spanish are in final review and should be added later in the summer. The administrator chooses a language on login, and then all screens are presented in that language.

As Questionmark software develops, we’ll be maintaining and expanding our multilingual support to allow you to use our software in your native language and not force you to think in English.

New Languages Added to Questionmark Live


Posted by Jim Farrell

Questionmark Live has become even more dynamic! You now have the ability to work in Questionmark Live in 11 languages including:

  • English
  • German
  • Dutch
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Hindi
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Italian

Watch this very brief video clip to see how easy it is to display your Questionmark Live workspace in a different  language. Keep an eye out for exciting new features added to Questionmark Live regularly.