Category Archives: World Languages

At Victory, Spanish Editorial develops everything from translation to original development in Spanish, from world languages to ESL and ELL customization. We have the pleasure of working directly with our bilingual tech and production teams.

Dual Language Programs and the Bilingual Advantage

Students studying abroad in India

As a college student, I spent a semester studying abroad in Italy. My embarrassment stumbling over new words will be familiar to many language learners. Whether asking for directions, ordering food, or attending class, I struggled to keep up as I frantically translated my thoughts from English to Italian. One night, after one of those expansive, hours-long Italian dinners with friends, I realized with a start that I wasn’t translating in my head anymore. I was thinking in Italian for the first time, focusing on the conversation instead of grammar and syntax. It’s moments like these that make learning another language so rewarding.

Wouldn’t it be great if learners could experience this at age 8 instead of 18? That’s the kind of experience that dual language programs can provide. Continue reading

Expert Translation for Education Markets

Spanish: The Greatest Impact on Education Outcomes

To achieve a brighter future in the United States, our students will need to be accomplished in math and science, adept in technology, and fluent and literate in English.

cb15-185_graphicThere are, however, hurdles to jump. One is language. In 2014, the largest numbers of new immigrants came from India and China. But there is a tremendous diversity in languages spoken, as shown by this graph from the Census Bureau. In each of these 15 cities, at least 140 languages are spoken.

This may make the educational publisher’s task seem daunting. But it is still true that the largest group of non-English speakers in the U.S. is Hispanic. According to the 2015 census, 41 million native Spanish speakers live in the United States. Another 11 million Spanish speakers are bilingual. By focusing on Spanish, at least initially, a publisher can have the most significant impact on education outcomes.

The Need for Accurate Translation

Research confirms that students learn math, science, and social studies more deeply when taught in their native language. Accurate translations of texts are essential for helping students stay on track as they transition to full English proficiency.

No problem: educational content can be run through a translation program, right?

Not so fast.

Continue reading

U.S. Education Market Snapshot: English Language Learners (ELLs)

The Early Days

In the 1960s, Victoria Porras attended Melrose High School in Massachusetts as an exchange student from Bogotá, Colombia. She was far from home. Her host family, teachers, and new schoolmates were friendly and eager to help, but the everyday English spoken in the Boston area is accented, idiomatic, and studded with acronyms.

Victoria decided then that she would find a way to help other exchange students navigate spoken English. The idea of Victory Productions grew from that experience.

When Victoria established Victory Productions in 1995, its mission was to develop educational materials to teach English as a Second Language (ESL), but she found that what the market wanted was Spanish translation. Only later did the market recognize the need for materials dedicated to English Language Learners (ELLs).

The ELL market has certainly changed since those early years. Most early programs focused on teaching English language skills so students could learn in the mainstream classroom. The products offered to the market were Spanish student editions, bilingual student editions, and supplemental programs designed to build English reading skills. Today’s market, however, is different.

Today’s Market for English Language Learners (ELLs)

The U.S. Department of Education recorded 4.85 million English language learners (ELLs) enrolled in public schools in the academic year 2012–2013. ELLs attend public schools in all 50 states, so the market is national. As shown in the map below compiled by the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), the greatest populations of ELLs (by percent of total enrollment) are in southwestern states. In 2012, there were six states with a 10% or higher density of ELLs: California, Texas, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico. On the east coast, only three states—Florida, New York, and Virginia—ranked in the top fifteen states in ELL student density.

U.S. State Map of Highest Density of English Language Learners (ELLs)

Growth of the ELL Market

Overall, the number of ELL students in U.S. public schools is increasing steadily. According to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), ELLs are the fastest growing segment of the student population. Growth in grades 7–12 is the highest and now comprises 10.5% of the nation’s K–12 enrollment. The number of ELL students in elementary grades is also increasing.

Although the overall percentage of ELL students in the U.S. is growing, the OELA map below clearly shows how widely the rate of growth varies across the country. In fact, there was a decrease in the ELL population in thirteen states, most importantly in California. Massachusetts was the only state in which the ELL population doubled during this time span.

U.S. State Data on Changes in Population of English Language Learners (ELLs)

Unique Characteristics of the ELL Market

Continue reading

Professional Translation and How to Avoid Flying Naked


Why is it important to have a professional write and translate your product?

In this era of new technology and immediacy, it is easy to get carried away with the specialized tools available to get the work done. But remember, they are only tools, which means they are only as good and effective as the person who uses them.

The same thing happens with free translation tools such as Google Translate, or even with professional tools such as Wordfast or SDL Trados. There are a number of automated tools for translation, but if used alone, they can be more harmful—or comical, for that matter—than useful. In 1977, an airline promoted leather seats in its first-class sections with the slogan “Fly in leather.” It was translated into Spanish as “Vuele en cuero” (a literal translation), which really means “Fly naked.” The biggest danger with automated tools is that they tend to translate literally and word by word. Continue reading

Talking to the Test—Spanish Localization

When people ask us to do a translation project, one of the first things to resolve is: Will localization be required? Localization depends on the target market. A translation for a Texas market will be different from one for New York or Florida.

Localization is especially important for high-stakes assessment, where accessibility is paramount. Whether we translate assessments, or create them in Spanish, we face a challenge—making sure the words we choose will convey the correct meaning to all students in the target market. Over the years, we have developed proprietary glossary tools to ensure that everyone working on a project is consistent in applying the same assumptions about localization.

How do glossaries help with localization?

localization video

There are so many rules and guidelines for assessment, that it’s like playing with a Rubik’s Cube™—you know where you have to get to, but how to get there is the problem. Localization is one more critical piece in the puzzle.

Talking to the Test: Translation or Transadaptation?

There’s a reason why people use the phrase “lost in translation.” Often, there’s more than one path to achieve a good translation, and rarely is the path a straight one. As translators, we have to navigate carefully so we don’t lose our way.

Sometimes, we need to use alternate routes to convey meaning from one language to another. Here are some road signs that keep us from getting “lost in translation”:

  • Translation
  • Transadaptation
  • Localization

In the world of language assessment, transadaptation is an important road sign to have on the map.

What is transadaptation?

transadaptation video

Video credit: This video shows images and text from Common Core en Español.
Common Core State Standards Spanish Language Version © Copyright 2013.
San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego, California. All rights reserved.

Victory has been translating high-stakes and formative assessments into Spanish for many years. Here’s a quick road map to get you started.

Good translation requires understanding the language within the culture. It’s not just about what it says; it’s also about what it means.

Transadaptation is like fitting a round peg in a square hole. It is a balancing act of staying true to the intended purpose while preserving accuracy and authenticity.

In order to be understood, it’s important to know who you’re talking to. There are as many variations of Spanish as countries that speak it. Knowing the target audience is key.

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