Translation in an EAL Setting

We’re looking at ways in which teachers can support multilingual students and their parents, particularly as we plan ahead for the new school year. Today, I’m going to focus on one particular area: the use of translation. More specifically: translation when you don't know the other language. What do you do?

Well, if you were to make an entertaining mistake, you wouldn't be alone. You’ve heard the stories – some, sadly, of doubtful provenance – about corporate translation-disasters.

And translation issues appear closer to home. Think of student life, and the friend’s essay that made you think, ‘Gulp! That’s gone straight through Google!’ Social media entertains us daily with ‘interesting’ renderings of friends’ posts. We shouldn’t criticise the companies; online instant translators are convenient when getting an idea of individual words or short pieces of text, and it’s nice to avoid FOMO through basic help with social-media captions. But it’s plain that another solution is needed when you’re producing a piece of text that needs to be accurate and to make a good impression. Thinking widely, that might be in an academic, communications or even legal context.

Whether it’s admittedly human, but ill-informed, marketers, or those automatic translators, the problem is the same. Neither process involves a person with sophisticated, intuitive understanding thinking about the individual text. You deserve an outstanding translator. And, particularly if the stakes are high, you might not want to put the burden on an unqualified friend.

So you recruit a professional. But you might need a few of them. Let's return to the teacher in a multilingual classroom, wanting to share documents with parents in any number of languages.

This is the origin of our Translation App. It was developed in order to meet this need. To ensure that information was getting through to all parents.

That said, it meets all sorts of other needs.

So how would you organise a human-led translation tool? Whether you’re translating into one language or thirty, the simplest and best-value solution would involve entering or uploading your text or document online, and then selecting from an exhaustive list of languages. Behind the scenes would be reliable, human, professional translators; the online service would simply save you time in accessing their services. You would quickly receive the translations by email. If it were well-priced and were guaranteed to eliminate the damage caused by a poor translation, such a solution would be good value.

This is exactly what we have created at Mantra Lingua with our Translation App. Click here, and scroll down, to try it.