By Avantpage

School districts have very specific language service needs to support their Limited English Proficient (LEP) families. As a language service provider (LSP) with a mission to connect people linguistically, we’ve worked with several school districts to provide translation and interpretation services successfully. Here are some best practices and recommendations we have for language services in school districts. 

A Brief Overview of the Translation Process

Each translation project will vary based on the type of content, the number of graphics, and other factors. However, in general, here’s a very brief overview of the translation process:

  1. Identify, define, and translate terminology
  2. Translate the content and localize any graphics, icons, or other imagery
  3. Review and put the project through a QA process
  4. Format the content, review, and finalize

Translation takes time to get through the different steps in the process. To make sure everyone involved in the process has as much time as possible, schedule translation projects in advance wherever it’s possible. 

Unplanned translation needs do come up, especially with health communications, so it’s not always possible to plan. However, when urgent projects come up, the tools that we mentioned previously will help the translators be as efficient as possible.

Identify Resources and Standardize Processes

Within districts, schools often have different language support needs based on the makeup of their neighborhood or local community. For consistency’s sake, it’s critical to identify the stakeholders at the school level who will be responsible for communicating your language access needs to your LSP. Whether those district resources are working directly with your LSP or funneling translation requests through a central point of contact to your LSP, it’s important to have standard practices in place to ensure the consistent quality your stakeholders expect. 

Translation Tools Make the Process More Efficient and Less Costly

Translation tools, including translation memory, terminology management, and computer-aided translation tools, all work together to make the translation process more efficient and less costly. According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education, one of the steps that school districts need to take is to ensure that interpreters and translators are knowledgeable about any specialized terms or concepts during the process. As with many industries, schools have specific terminology relating to individual education plans, policies, safety information, health and wellness information, evaluations, parent letters, and much more. When it comes to the translation process, standardizing these terms and storing them in a translation memory is vital for content reuse, which leads to a consistent user experience and a more efficient and less costly translation process. Here’s how these translation tools work together.

Translation Memory (TM)

A translation memory is a database that stores source text and the equivalent translated content. It’s organized in a way so that you can compare new content with content that’s already been translated to identify matches. As you add more translation projects, the TM continues to grow, thus building a library of content.

Terminology Management

Identifying and managing terminology is another important step in the localization process. As we mentioned earlier, education has specific terminology that can be reused across different communications. The key to maximizing terminology management is to identify the key terms before a project goes to translation. In this case, translators can get a step ahead by translating these terms in context, and then they’re added to the TM for use during the project and for future projects.

Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) Tools

CAT tools are software programs that pull everything together for translators. They work with a translation memory to automatically populate the translated terms. CAT tools then compare new text strings with existing text strings to determine the reuse potential. 

Tying it All Together

The translation tools are intertwined, so it’s best to do some work upfront to maximize the tools’ potentials. For school districts, we recommend having all the translation points of contact get together to compare and create a terminology list to develop one standard list to share with your LSP. This way, your audience will see the same translated terms regardless of where they are in the district. Once you have a standardized terminology list, share it with anyone who creates content.

The Importance of Interpretation Services in School Districts

In working with Limited English Proficient stakeholders, providing a variety of written and verbal communication will give all involved the whole picture of a student’s progress. Oral interpretation is key to providing immediate answers and clarifying questions, and it helps to facilitate a deeper understanding than a written translation can sometimes provide. Emergencies, disciplinary or congratulatory conversations or simply discussing student progress are all cases where interpretation is preferred. While many LEP families may wish to use bilingual family members to interpret these conversations, but it’s best to have a neutral interpreter. 

Avantpage’s Language Solutions for School Districts

We are a language service provider that has been serving the LEP population for almost 20 years. We’ve worked with various school districts to establish a standardized process, create terminology, and deliver translation projects for both urgent and routine communications in multiple languages. Our language services include website copy, communications to families, individual education plans (IEPs), and many more. We also provide on-demand, immediate access to certified interpreters via phone to can enable real-time conversation with LEP partners. 
For more information about language services for school districts, contact us at [email protected] or (530) 750-2040. We’re here to support the myriad of translation and interpretation needs.