Change, adapt, and evolve: GALA Munich 2019 conference

By Marina Ilari |

The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) conference of 2019 took place in Munich from March 24 to 27. I was particularly excited about this conference because it was my first time in Germany! Full disclosure: I do not speak any German. As a linguist, I was looking forward to learning some phrases in this foreign language (I might have failed at trying to pronounce most words, but after practicing insistently, I did end up learning how to properly say “Neuschwanstein,” the name of the castle we visited during the GALA pre-conference tour).

This year, the conference focused on artificial intelligence, specifically the latest innovations which have evolved to meet the rapidly growing demand for services in the global translation and localization industry. I was expecting to hear a lot about machine translation and how it’s changed the way that we work, a topic that held little promise of novelty for me despite its importance. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that most of the sessions touched on the importance of the human factor in translation, and how it will continue to be an essential part of the industry.

Below I would like to share three main takeaways from the conference and the sessions I attended.

We’ll always need translators

Human translators will always be necessary in our industry. The expertise of human beings—whether it pertains to cultural awareness or to niche expertise in key verticals— will only become more important as new technology develops and the organization and flow of business become increasingly complex and accelerated.

Henry Dotterer, the founder and president of ProZ, predicts that there will be “no more anonymous translators,” and that individual translators will have a more prominent presence in the translation work of the future.

Zack Kass, from Lilt, expressed during his presentation that “We’ll always need translators who are domain experts.” Translators working in a specific niche, experts in a domain, will continue to be essential, as there are even higher expectations for the translated content than there are for the original content being produced by companies worldwide.

Our industry is evolving

The translation industry is going through major technological changes impacting the way we do business. Technological innovations run the gamut from the incorporation of rule-based systems, the use of expert systems, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and deep learning. This technology is here to stay, and learning to adopt it will become more and more important if companies wish to sustain growth over the next century. According to a study by Common Sense Advisory, companies that aggressively embrace technology, such as the use of MT, have shown greater growth (companies not embracing technology grew 2.3% whereas those embracing technology grew 7.9% from 2013-2016).

Today we translate less than 3% of the content available in less than 10 languages. As the future of global brands depends on localizing and globalizing their business, the volume of this content will, inevitably, go up. We can expect an overall increase in language services, and translation companies need to be prepared for this by utilizing a more proactive —instead of reactive— approach.

Talent, not technology, is the key to success in the digital future

During one of the presentations someone shared a quote by Scott Snyder: “The digital future is a moving target… Start by having the right people with the right skills in the right roles… this will far outweigh picking the right technology algorithm… Make sure you get the human part right.”  I couldn’t agree with this more. Our human talent is essential to the success of our company. As the industry continues to evolve and as we continue to implement technologies that help us automate processes, the expertise of our team members (project managers, account managers, vendor managers, etc.) is the added value we can provide to our clients. The evolution of the industry dictates, however, that the technical knowledge of all stakeholders will need to be advanced. Easy and repetitive tasks will continue to be more and more automated and machine-centric. The expertise of our team members will come into play in projects that are more complex. Investing in the professional development of your company’s team, including comprehensive training in cutting-edge technology, is fundamental to the growth and success of a company.

As Andrew Hickson said during his presentation in Munich, “But what if we train our employees and they leave? Well, what if we don’t and they stay?”. Indeed, employees are our greatest asset. Training them is the bridge to help our company adapt to change and grow, and ultimately, to add value to our clients.

An Introduction to the Needs of Medical Translation

An Introduction to the Needs of Medical Translation

A passion for providing patients with the best possible care is something that guides many medical professionals throughout their careers. As our communities grow more diverse, the field of medical translation is growing too. This is a vast field and there is no way to fully summarize the goals and needs of the medical translation industry in brevity, but these are some of the basics that you need to know about this life-saving industry.

What Makes a Qualified Medical Translator

The standards required of a medical translator are more rigid than those expected of other translators. To translate a medical document accurately—which is of potentially grave importance— the translator is required to have a native (or close to native) level of language comprehension. They should also have analytical capabilities and deep cultural knowledge of the subject.

Ideally, a medical translator will have formal education in their native language as well as the one they are translating at a college level. Additional instruction in translation theory and practice is also a must. Because medical translation requires such a high level of accuracy, it’s important the translator is an expert on the subject, meaning they can fully understand the source text, write in the language, and can use industry-specialized dictionaries. As a medical translator, it is necessary to research niche terminology in the target language. This research can even include regional variations.

Which Medical Documents Are a Priority

There is a multitude of uses for medical documents. They can inform the public on health matters, inform patients of treatment, obtain legal consent for procedures, and more.

You should consider the following criteria when deciding if a document needs translation (in compliance with Title VI. The Department of Justice).

  • How many individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) need service.
  • The frequency of needed contact with a program.
  • What the nature of the program and its importance is to the program beneficiaries.
  • The resources available as well as associated costs.

It is commonly recommended that the following materials require translation.

  • Signage and informational posters that are visible in high-traffic areas of a medical facility (such as the lobby).
  • “Vital” documents such as admission, consent, and complaint forms.
  • Eligibility, procedural, and safety materials.
  • Privacy forms and commonly given release instructions.
  • Important patient educational materials.

Mistakes to Avoid

Hiring a translator who is not properly trained in the medical field can lead to disastrous results. An unqualified translator is more likely to make mistakes when translating vital documents. Bilingual medical professionals should also not act as medical translators. Even if they have a level of fluency in a particular language, that proficiency is usually acquired at home, not through formal education. It may be tempting to outsource your medical translation needs to technology, but the risks increase exponentially if machine translation is used. Machine translation may give a general understanding of the text it’s translating and even come to the rescue when there is need of a medical translation quickly in a medical setting and no qualified translators are readily available, but isn’t considered appropriate to produce any official medical documents. If a translation engine makes a mistake when working with medical text, the confusion, and consequences caused by a misunderstood word can be serious.

3 Things You Need to Know About E-learning Course Localization

3 Things You Need to Know About E-learning Course Localization

As technologies advance, e-learning courses continue to expand reach and provide education outside a traditional classroom setting. Businesses embraced the trend adopting e-learning courses to train team members and sharpen skills. In fact, 98 percent of organizations said they would implement video as part of their digital learning strategy by 2022, according to data compiled by Zeqr. Large companies have found that e-learning courses are an effective solution to efficiently train their subsidiary teams in non-English speaking countries. According to a Brandon Hall Group study, it takes employees 40 to 60 percent less time to study material via e-learning than in a traditional classroom setting. With more businesses and students using e-learning platforms, the reach of any course or training program is now global, therefore, e-learning course localization has become key to its success.

The biggest challenge to e-learning courses is language. The most common languages in the world include Chinese at 1.2 billion people followed by Spanish at around 0.4 billion people. Websites, digital applications, and platforms are beginning to evolve communication to reflect this diversity of language. Twitter’s language base, for example, has expanded from 21 supported languages in 2012 to more than twice that number in 2015 with 48 supported languages. No matter the country or channel, e-learning courses must include local context to properly engage the end user and serve its purpose. Additionally, e-learning courses can be technical, requiring subject-matter experts who will properly understand and localize a course for the target market.

Here are 3 tips to guide your organization through e-learning course localization.

1. Consider every element of the e-learning course.

From traditional videos to interactive activities, e-learning is delivered in a multitude of formats. Within each form, organizations will discover various elements in need of localization that may include written content, graphics, navigation buttons, audio, date formats, and units of measurement. Another significant component includes course evaluation systems. Evaluations and scores vary among regions, typically graded as a percent, letter, or number system.

When launching any new e-learning program, it’s best to consider all of these details and plan for multilingual content from the very beginning. This allows organizations to better determine the scope of the project and identify the teams needed for optimal localization.

2. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to e-learning course localization.

It’s important for your organization to recognize that e-learning copy or voice-over lengths will vary in size depending on language. For example, a 100-word e-learning course in English will typically end up with a word count of 125 when translated to Spanish or another Romance language. This compression and expansion of copy may affect course design and layouts.

Another aspect of localization variables to consider is synchronization, specifically for voice-over scripts. If the course requires dubbing services, the audios must adapt to the videos in order to achieve harmony between the image and sound. For multilingual content, organizations should capture extra footage so that scenes can be expanded to accommodate longer voice-overs.

3. Localizing is more than translating.

E-learning course localization is far more complex than translating alone. Translation involves rendering one language to another. Localization is a more involved process that properly aligns intent, context, and culture. E-learning courses often include technical jargon, abbreviations, acronyms, evaluation methodologies, and regional slang that require efforts beyond translating methods alone. Once localized, it’s important to leverage local experts to review all e-learning course content. This quality assessment will ensure the course effectively educates trainees in the target market.

Next time your organization launches an e-learning course, remember the possibilities of global reach. If possible, incorporate a multilingual strategy as you create content. When crafted with care and consideration, multilingual e-learning courses will further your organization’s reach and spark lasting connections across the globe.