Tips for Translating Materials for Multilingual Preschool

10. Say less!! Use this opportunity to pare down to the absolute minimum of messages and words needed to save money and time on multilingual translations.

9. Simplify – Make translation more manageable and help those with low English literacy too. Use short sentences, simple words.

Say what you mean – exactly. Remove lingo, slang, acronyms, idioms. Instead of ‘rain date’ say ‘If it rains on Tuesday, we will meet on Wednesday’.

7. With Google translate and mobile apps like iTranslate you can type words and hear them in several languages, and Microsoft Word can translate typed words – but NONE of these services is 100% accurate – do not use for formal or legal documents.

6. Share translations with neighboring programs to save money. Agree to set up documents as templates so you can just fill in names, dates, etc.

5. Pay certified translators for important documents – and seek a professional that has background in education or early childhood for closest match.

4. Not all bilingual people are suitable translators, some may speak, but not write the language. Have at least two readers verify content before using. Does it match the dialects and reading levels of your audience?

3. Invite parents, staff, and volunteers to participate as reviewers of all materials purchased or translated – to check for accuracy AND cultural appropriateness.

2. Try to use the same sentences over and over. Keep the translations and re-use the sentences where possible. Identify key messages with predictable colors or icons.

1. Use all media. Ask volunteers to say messages to families in person or on phone, use email and text messages, and add pictures to ensure understanding.


  • Florencia Briglie says:

    Hi Karen,

    I met you at Naecyc in Dallas and I totally agree with this article!.

    I work in the child development field and I am also a Spanish translator, interpreter and transcriber. The worst thing that can happen to me is read a bad translation, an also is not respectful for the families.
    Thank you so much to continue pushing for this matter.
    I really appreciate your interest and commitment with multicultural families.

    Please if you have any need let me know.
    I work in this field and I can do a wonderful job translating documents, manuals and forms.



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