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The importance of translation in an increasingly global world of education

The importance of translation in an increasingly global world of education [Photo: iStock/BraunS]
in Education and Training

The world of education is a more global one than it’s ever been before. Whereas in the past, people would have studied in cities near where they grew up, many now travel all over the world to find the best education for themselves and get the degree they really want.

For example, according to the UK’s higher education body UCAS, as many as 430,000 overseas students study in the UK every year, coming from a range of countries across the European Union, North America and the Far East. It means there’s a real diversity both in learning styles and language across the sector, which presents real challenges to educators.

And it’s not just the UK where this has become the case. According to a new BBC report, more British students are now looking overseas to study medicine than ever before. It said the restrictive cost of a medical degree in the UK means there are thousands of UK students now looking to become doctors by studying in Bulgaria, Romania and other Eastern European nations.

Given that the majority of people from the UK and Ireland do not speak languages originating in the Eastern parts of Europe, this presents a challenge to the universities there which are seeing an influx of students from the UK. Language barriers are tough hurdles to overcome in the world of education, where teaching methods and source material can differ greatly. But it’s important that it’s done right to overcome these barriers. Effective end-to-end translation is the key to this, giving educators all the tools they need to teach those studying with them, without the hazards of anything being lost in translation.

Here, we take a look at just a few of the challenges that come with translating educational materials, and why strong translation is important as a result.

It’s not all text

It would be easy when it comes to educating someone who speaks a different language to simply focus on the texts they are using to learn. After all, textbooks can be bought in different languages, and if someone has the source materials they need, then they can learn all about what they need to know.

However, it’s about more than just text when it comes to the right translation for the training and education sectors. Remember, there are a great many ways to teach someone what you need them to know. Lectures, demonstrations, practical classes and discussions are all an important part of the learning process in a modern university, and just translating text alone cannot make these teaching methods a success.

For universities, a translation process must include making sure all learning materials are aligned in terms of language. Whether this is practical instruction, a lecture that is delivered in one or two different languages, or even just classes where students from overseas can learn in their native language, it’s vital any translation of educational materials is a fully rounded strategy. In any case, where there are materials and lessons available in one language and not another, students and other learners are being set up to fail.

Fair and even testing

Of course, at the end of any educational process comes testing. Before issuing any sort of qualification, you need to know that students have learned, retained and applied teaching correctly. However, this is where there can be some potential problems when it comes to translation.

To be a good educator, you must make sure that everyone who is learning at your institution is being given a fair crack of the whip. It can never be the case that anyone taking an exam is put at a disadvantage because of their own native language.

This means universities have to ensure they provide exam papers in a range of languages that meet the needs of all of their students. And this can be easier said than done. It’s not a simple case of ensuring that everything is translated. It must be done properly, and in a way that makes sure exam papers are fair and even in each language, to make sure no one is being left at a disadvantage. It means not only having translators on hand who understand the language, but also having access to those who have a knowledge of the sector, and preferably the world of education, so that they are providing something that gives everyone taking the exam a fair chance.

In the world of education, there are a great many hurdles to overcome, especially given the fact more and more people are studying overseas each year. The diversity of those who choose to study in any given country calls out for educational services that are every bit as diverse, and it’s vital that universities ensure through excellent, end-to-end translation services, that they are providing a fair education for everyone they are teaching.

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