Collaborative translation: translation into English with the trainer

How do you deal with translation now?

Most of my participants have been in a situation in which they’ve prepared a document, presentation, blog post, email etc. in their own language, and then it needs translation into English. Does that sound familiar? Most would  probably agree that this can take ages, and can be a thoroughly frustrating experience – however  hard you try, and however good your English is, it’s difficult, on your own, to get the same tone, style, meaning, specialized vocabulary across.

Of course, you could also send it to a translation company, and the work that comes back is usually very good, but it’s just not quite right – it’s not yours and there are things that just weren’t quite right. The problem is that usually the translator is remote and they are sent a text which they may know something about, but not as much as you, to translate – and they usually can’t consult you. This means that you then have to spend more time revising the text.

What don’t we do?

Working as InCorporate Trainers and being based in a wide variety of departments across a number of multi-nationals, it became clear to us that this is a universal problem. Participants tend to want the quick solution and might send us a text in German saying they need it back in English by the end of the day. We don’t do this. Simply, this would put us back in the role of the translator, possibly knowing a little more, as we are based in the department. In the long-run though, who would it help?

What is our solution?

What we do is to train the participant and the department to plan us into their process – there are steps involved in writing a document or putting a presentation together. We become one of those steps.

One of our trainers sets aside an appropriate amount of time with the participant(s) and we work through the text together. One of my clients, for example, needs to put together a newsletter each quarter.  We look at the German text and together decide how to translate it. This involves a great deal of discussion, which sometimes even results in the rewriting of the German text as they realize that something could have been phrased better. As an example, for two sides of A4 this usually takes around three hours – but it is so worth it. The participants have ownership over the piece, they are ALL happy with it both in German and English – and the trainer usually ends up with material based on language points that came up for several training sessions. A win/win situation.

What kind of things can we help with?

To name but a few: manuals, style guides, brochures, flyers, presentation slides, handbooks, instruction sheets, blog posts, social media profiles, speeches – the list goes on…

How can we help you?

You can book sessions with us if you know that you have something important to deliver in English and you want to be completely happy with the wording – but you need to be prepared to dedicate some time, and to accept that this kind of translation depends on you and the trainer working as a team.  Let us know of anything that we can help you with below!