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.
Schools continue to move toward digital lessons and digital experiences for students. Most students are digital natives and are comfortable in this world. However, not all students have equal access. How does the digital revolution affect ELL students?
Some ELL students are very comfortable with technology and how it works, while others are using it for the first time. Digital lessons, however, abound in the classroom. Across content areas, culminating activities in lessons often ask students to do more research on the Internet, use graphics in their reports, cite resources, and create digital slideshows. These types of activities are designed to help students acquire and adopt skills needed for 21st-century work. And a survey by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop shows that Hispanic-Latino families want their children to have these skills.
Access Starts with the Directions
However, there are several roadblocks for ELL students. Most educational websites and software tools provide directions only in English, which poses a barrier for ELL students. If they cannot follow the directions, ELL students may struggle to complete assignments and fall behind their peers. Situations such as this can easily lead to frustration and might make ELL students reluctant to use digital devices in the classroom. So how can we scaffold learning for ELL students in digital lessons?
To translate is defined as “to render or express in another language.” It also means to explain in simple language, to interpret or infer significance, and to transform or convert. A translation involves all of these aspects and more. Expert translation requires:
command of the source and target languages,
a deep understanding of the cultural context and nuances of both languages,
insightful knowledge of correlated idioms and etymology between the languages,
familiarity and experience in the subject matter, and
the ability to convey the same meaning expressed in the original message.
World Languages & Education #1 … an ongoing series
As we discussed in recent posts, the assessment market is in flux. But this is nothing new. The passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in 2002 disrupted the market, and for some companies this turned out to be a boon, as spending on state-level assessments nearly tripled in the next 6 years. As you can see from this graph, state-level assessment spending has decreased since 2008, while classroom assessment spending has continued to grow.
Just as the change in 2002 represented an opportunity for many companies, the shifts we see now may also have a silver lining. And for one area in particular, Spanish assessments, there may be continued growth, especially in the classroom market. Why? Regardless of other shifts that may occur, students with Spanish as the first language comprise by far the largest population among English Language Learners (ELL) in the United States, at 71%, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
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 →
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.
There 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?
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)
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 →
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?
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.
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”:
In the world of language assessment, transadaptation is an important road sign to have on the map.