How to Choose the Best Language Translation Company for Your School District

Rick Antezana | August 21, 2023

Translation and localization services are vital to the success of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students, especially if they’re trying to overcome language barriers. Depending on the quality of these services, they can make or break LEP students’ and families’ educational experiences, and school districts bear the responsibility of finding and implementing these keystone services.

So, how do you choose the right localization and translation company for your school district? It’s key to create a partnership with a company you trust to get the job done well, within required timelines, and on budget. And you may even need translators to be subject matter experts, as well.

Given the number of considerations, picking the best language translation companies for school districts can be an undertaking.

But these useful tips can help you find the services that best fit your school district’s needs.

Considerations for Choosing Language Translation Services for School Districts

When searching for your next language translation partner or individual translator, here are some questions and considerations to keep in mind.

What are your goals when finding translation services?

First, consider the frequency with which you’ll need a translator and what languages you’ll need to be covered for your district. Will you need consistency in who you work with? Will it be a large quantity of translated content?

Translation companies will be able to handle larger quantities of content in a shorter amount of time, and they’ll be able to cover a wider range of languages than an individual translator. They’ll also usually handle the applicable project management responsibilities and translation technology, depending on the company.

On the other hand, individual freelance translators may be better for in-class needs, one-off projects, or if you need content translated only in one or two languages.

Do they have quality assurance (QA) capabilities?

Whether you’re using human translators or machine translation capabilities, translation mistakes can happen. Whichever option you choose, it’s crucial to ensure the company you hire employs sound QA services, i.e., using qualified, vetted professional editors to review any and all translated materials.

This process gives you the added advantage of ensuring the quality of work so that nothing gets lost in translation.

What languages do they offer?

When looking for translation services, make sure the translation entity can cover not only globally-distributed languages you may often see — e.g., English, Spanish, Mandarin, etc. — but also any of the less common languages or dialects your school district may request. With growing populations of immigrant and refugee communities, the language needs of diverse school districts can often exceed 50 languages per district.

Using translation companies or individuals that handle a wide variety of languages and dialects means you won’t need to balance multiple entities for your district’s needs.

What support services/availability do they offer?

A translation company that offers 24/7 support can be an invaluable resource for school districts. This means they can answer questions and offer support at any time, and for any reason.

This may also mean they have a faster turnaround time. Take note of how long it takes to get a response from any prospective company when sending a request. Is their response time quick enough for your needs? Find out the average time it takes them to get a completed translation back to you for different languages.

It’s important to know how you can communicate with them. Is the process easy? Do your research to see what available support platforms they have, and ensure it aligns with your preferred method of communication, be it email, text, chat support, or phone calls.

Also, crucially, see how they respond to your requests, questions, or comments. Ask yourself whether you’re satisfied with how they handle your initial customer query. This can be a key factor in determining compatibility with their services.

Do they have subject matter experts available?

Schools often cover complex subjects for students, especially in middle and high school. Ensuring that translations properly explain what’s going on is important to the future growth of the students.

Subject matter experts (SMEs) on a given language, topic, or methodology can help ensure that the proper terminology and verbiage are used across any and all relevant materials.

What certifications do they have?

Check out the certifications of the translators and make sure they align with the requirements of your district. In the U.S., the American Translators Association certification is often a sign of quality for individual translators and for translation companies.

When considering a translation company, it’s important to always ask about the credentials of both the translators within the company and the organization itself. Look out for ISO 9001, 17100, or 27001 badges.

Certifications don’t always guarantee quality, but they do indicate that the organization meets specific standards for these particular services.

How fast is their turnaround time?

School districts are often fielding translation requests daily and some are more urgent than others. Regardless, if you’re seeking a responsive, reliable entity, response time is important. Some organizations specialize in the rapid turnaround of smaller projects, while others are not optimized to work in that way.

If you’re curious about what their turnaround time looks like, request a quote from the company to see how quickly they get back to you.

It’s also worth noting whether they have expedited delivery options, depending on the routine needs of your district.

What’s their reputation? 

An organization’s reputation is the key summation of the quality of their services. If considering a specific company, be sure to explore customer reviews, to hear about their experiences.

You can typically find reviews on a company’s website, or you can look at case studies for previous projects they’ve worked on. Platforms like G2 and TrustPilot are useful resources for reading about past and present client experiences.

You can also simply dive into their existing content. Ask yourself whether they’re knowledgeable in the services you require.

Do they fit into your budget?

Aside from quality, affordability is another key factor in choosing the right translation services. Translation pricing includes multiple factors: availability, credentials of the translator, languages offered, turnaround time, and more.

If you have a specific company in mind, do some digging to figure out how they price their projects.

Pricing for translation can vary: some companies and individuals charge by the word or page, while others price per document or hour.

To find the right translation services, for the right price, consider the languages you’ll need for your school district, and find out how their rates vary by language. Find out the going rate for common projects you expect you’ll need, and compare those prices to your available budget.

You can check out document prices by breaking them down into a per-word rate and making sure the rates are reasonable, so you don’t end up overpaying.

It’s worth noting that you may find yourself overpaying with per-hour translation pricing. Whether it’s because of a slow or inexperienced translator, or a particularly difficult project, you may find yourself spending money you don’t have, due to factors beyond your control. The most objective way to calculate the cost of translation projects, and the industry standard, is on a per-word basis.

What customization options are required, and how flexible is the company?

The individual circumstances behind each translation request are unique, and you may find yourself needing flexibility from the translation entity you’re working with.

Before pulling the trigger on a company, it’s best to inquire about their customization policies, and whether they’re willing to be flexible for your unique needs.

For example, it’s worth asking whether they’re open to negotiating reduced fees for repeated, or highly similar, projects in the same language, where their technology tools can help reduce cost and save time. You may also need a specific service, whether that be in-person American Sign Language (ASL) translators, or SMEs on video in classrooms.

Choose the best language translation services for your school district.

With these considerations in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to find the right translation services for your district’s needs.

We know it’s a big job to tackle. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, let’s chat. We’d love to help you find the best possible fit.

Dynamic Language offers comprehensive language solutions for school districts like yours, including translation and localization services. Our LEP subject matter experts and scalable technologies can meet your unique translation needs and deliver positive results for your students and staff.

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