Top Tips for Translating Materials for Preschool DLLs and Families

Translating materials for preschool DLLs and families.

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1.  Say less!! Reach out to preschool DLLs and their families by paring down to the absolute minimum of messages and words needed to save money and time on translations.

  1. Simplify – Make translation more manageable and help those with low English literacy too. Use short sentences, simple words.
  1. 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’.
  1. 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. (UPDATE: Google Translate App lets you use the camera on your tablet to show printed documents translated before your eyes!)
  1. Share translations with neighboring programs to save money. Agree to set up documents as templates so you can just fill in names, dates, etc.
  1. Pay certified translators for important documents – and seek a professional that has background in education or early childhood for closest match.
  1. 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?
  1. Invite parents, staff, and volunteers to participate as reviewers of all materials purchased or translated – to check for accuracy AND cultural appropriateness.
  1. 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.

By Karen Nemeth, photo by

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