Large organisations, like councils, work with multiple translations providers. While understandable, it can present problems such as consistency.

Projects are often time sensitive, so organisations are not able to brief their translation providers. Instead, their focus is on turning documents around as fast as possible. But this can result in inconsistencies that cause misunderstandings in the translation’s audience.

In this article, we explain how to provide a full brief to translators to prevent this. At the end is a link you can download with a template that will help you brief your translation providers.

  1. Know your goal.

What are you trying to achieve by translating a particular resource?

Will the purpose of the translation be…

  •  Prevention (for example, improving cancer screening)?
  • Raising awareness (improving healthy habits in cancer patients or recycling outcomes in a local government area)?
  • Education (helping people understand council rates)?
  • Something else specific to your organisation?

You will also need to set goals for your translation.

  •  What do you want it to achieve?
  • What do you want people who read it to do?
  • What measurable outcomes are you hoping for?

Setting goals will make it easy to measure the results of your community translations project and evaluate the outcomes.

  1. Understand your distribution channels.

How will the translations be distributed? If you are preparing medical material, will it be printed and distributed through GP clinics? Or, will it be a page on an organisation’s website? Will it be posted on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram?

You will also need to know whether the reader will have help from a support person (such as a GP) to understand the information or whether they will read it independently. This can dictate terminology choices and even graphic design features. 

translation providers

  1. Share previously translated content and/or glossaries.

Giving translators access to previously translated content will provide plenty of information about the style, terminology, and register you use. This will help achieve better consistency in your overall communications strategy and improve outcomes.

Ask your translations provider to create and keep an up-to-date glossary of terms for your organisation. For example, ‘breast cancer’ has three different translations in Spanish. Ensuring that the translators use the same translation across all your publications will lead to clearer communication.

  1. Understand your target audience and learn about their cultural backgrounds.

First, identify which languages are spoken by your target community groups. Distinguish between the language spoken at home and the country of origin as they may be different. For example, the languages spoken in India include English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Tamil.

Second, find out about their ethnic backgrounds, ages, behaviours, and preferences for receiving information. This is important because ideas or even words can be understood very differently depending on the cultural background and beliefs of the audience.

Thirdly, check for low-literacy requirements. Is EasyRead / Plain Language required to ensure anyone who reads it will fully understand the message? Think about a complex sentence that includes jargon and how much more likely it will be for translators to misinterpret a concept or make the wrong terminology choice. Simple words and short sentences always work best.

  1. Decide on a call to action.

What do you want the audience to do after reading the resource?

This could be to book a visit to a GP, go to a website page for more information, or send back a completed form. Ideally, any given resource must have a single call to action, although quite often, there is more than one.

  1. Ensure quality control.

How will you know if your translated content is accurate for the intended audience?

It is not enough just to trust your translation provider to deliver appropriate content. It is important to have checks in place that will ensure no mistakes have been made. This is critical when information is being imparted that could save lives, such as during the Covid crisis. We recommend the use of independent community checkers who can double check that the translated material achieves the objectives that were set out at the beginning of the project.


Selecting Reliable Translation Providers

When selecting reliable translation providers, it’s important to consider several factors to ensure high-quality translations and a smooth working experience. Here are some guidelines to help you choose a reliable translation provider:

  1. Reputation and Experience: Look for translation providers with a strong reputation in the industry and positive customer reviews. Consider their experience in translating content in your specific field or industry.
  2. Quality Assurance Processes: Inquire about the translation provider’s quality assurance processes. Reliable providers have robust quality control measures, such as proofreading, editing, and review stages to ensure accuracy and consistency.
  3. Native Translators: Ensure that the translation provider employs native speakers of the target language. Native translators have a better understanding of the language nuances, cultural context, and idiomatic expressions, leading to more accurate translations.
  4. Subject Matter Expertise: If your content requires specialized knowledge, such as legal, technical, or medical terminology, choose a translation provider with expertise in those fields. This ensures accurate translations and minimizes the risk of errors or misinterpretations.
  5. Confidentiality and Data Security: Translation providers should have strict confidentiality protocols to protect your sensitive information. Inquire about their data security measures, such as secure file transfers, encryption, and non-disclosure agreements.
  6. Clear Communication and Project Management: Effective communication is essential for successful translation projects. Choose a provider that is responsive, attentive to your requirements, and offers clear channels of communication. Additionally, they should have robust project management systems in place to ensure deadlines are met.
  7. Translation Technology and Tools: Ask about the translation provider’s use of translation memory tools, glossaries, and other technologies that enhance consistency and efficiency. These tools can help maintain consistency across multiple projects and reduce costs for repetitive content.
  8. Pricing and Turnaround Time: While cost shouldn’t be the sole determining factor, consider the pricing structure of the translation provider. Compare their rates with industry standards while keeping in mind the quality of their work. Additionally, inquire about their turnaround time to ensure they can meet your project deadlines.
  9. Flexibility and Scalability: If you have ongoing or large-scale translation needs, ensure the provider can handle your requirements. They should have the resources, capacity, and flexibility to scale up or down as needed.
  10. References and Samples: Request references from the translation provider to gauge their past clients’ satisfaction. You can also ask for sample translations to assess the quality of their work.
  11. NAATI Translators: NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters) accreditation is a mark of quality and professionalism for translators and interpreters in Australia. NAATI-accredited translators have demonstrated their language proficiency, cultural understanding, and adherence to a strict Code of Ethics. Their accreditation is widely recognized and accepted, making them a reliable choice for accurate translations, especially for official purposes and specialized fields.

Remember to thoroughly research and compare multiple translation providers before making a final decision. This will help you find a reliable partner that meets your specific requirements and delivers high-quality translations.

If you would like a downloadable info sheet with a template that can be used to brief translators, send us a message.

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About the Author: Sonia Sanchez
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