AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | languages

Hello in different languages

I’m Jessie Tannenbaum, Advisor in the Research, Evaluation, and Learning Office at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative*, here to share tips and ideas for conducting evaluation work in foreign languages.

First Things First: Budget

Having a good interpreter is as important as having a good evaluator, and interpretation (verbal) and translation (written) are expensive. Make sure your evaluation is budgeted at local market rates for interpreters (you may need 2, depending on the length of meetings) and translators, allow for interpreter overtime and translation rush fees, and remember to budget for interpretation equipment. Even if you’re bilingual, unless your entire evaluation team will be working entirely in the foreign language, you’ll probably need some documents translated (usually charged per word in the target language).

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Define Your Terms: Native Speaker =/= Technical Fluency

Unless you are conducting an evaluation on a subject in which you have technical training, in your native language and your native country, you need to sit down with a local expert on the evaluation subject and define commonly-used terms. Even the same term in the same language may have different meanings in different countries. If you’re working with an interpreter, make sure they understand English technical terms you use and how they relate to technical terms in their own language. If you’re a bilingual evaluator, review common technical terms used in that country or make sure you’re accompanied by a technical expert who can help you avoid confusion.

Hot Tip: Treat interpreters as part of your evaluation team. Orient them to your research process and interview/focus group techniques, and debrief afterwards.

Why use a bilingual evaluator? (Not just because it’s cheaper.)

Cultural knowledge is as important as subject-matter expertise. Even working with the best interpreter, evaluators who don’t speak the language of people participating in their evaluation will inevitably miss some cultural context. In most cases, this will cause minor confusion that’s easily smoothed over, but sometimes, it could throw the evaluation completely off course. It’s important to work with someone who understands the community where the evaluation will take place to determine whether it’s appropriate to work through an interpreter, or whether a bilingual evaluator is needed.

Writing for Translation

Chances are, if you’re working for a US-based organization, you’ll write surveys, interview protocols, and your evaluation report in English and have them translated. The way you write in English can affect the quality of the translation.  Translation company Lionbridge has great tips on writing for translation. Write short, clear sentences, avoid humor and idioms, and use the active voice.  Check out Federal plain language guidelines for tips on writing concisely and clearly.

Rad Resource: Poor survey translations can distort findings, and the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan has published must-read guidelines on translating surveys. Best practices include planning translation as part of study design, using a team translation approach, and assessing the translation prior to pre-testing.

*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABA ROLI.

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating International and Cross-Cultural (ICCE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the International and Cross-Cultural Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our ICCE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Hello! I’m Sheila B Robinson, aea365’s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor with a fabulous learning opportunity for evaluators who work with linguistically diverse stakeholders (and I’ll bet that’s most of us!), and are concerned with cultural competence in our evaluation work.

Duolingo is a crowdsourced, engaging, gamified, free language learning platform whose “ultimate goal is to give everyone access to a private tutor experience through technology.” They claim to be the largest online language learning platform with 100 million students.

Lesson Learned: I found 27 different languages offered on Duolingo including Turkish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Irish, Swahili, Russian, Korean, and, interestingly enough… Klingon. When you first access the site, you choose a language and a goal of how many minutes you’re willing to invest in learning. You can set your goal to 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes per day. Then, you choose your path. Either jump right into the learning, or take a placement test if you think you have some knowledge of the language. This is how I started. Armed with 6 years’ worth of middle and high school French, I was certain I could jump at least one level and so I spent 5-10 minutes translating French phrases into English, and trying to compose French phrases from given English phrases (much harder!). Turns out Duolingo is serious learning! Sadly, I failed to skip ahead and Duolingo placed me at the very beginning.  (In my defense, high school was quite a long time ago!)

Cool Trick: Duolingo also offers languages for speakers of languages other than English. For example, they offer Spanish for Russian speakers, French for Arabic speakers, and German for Italian speakers, among many other options.

Rad Resource: I learned about Duolingo from another great find. I stumbled on an article entitled An In-Depth Guide To Choosing The Best Online Learning Sites which offers a great review and comparisons of MOOCs and other online learning opportunities.

Cool Trick: According to the article, “your achievements [on Duolingo] can be integrated directly into your LinkedIn profile to display from a reputable source your verified language proficiency level.”

Boa sorte! [That’s “good luck” in Portuguese!]

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Greetings! I am Carla Forrest, a staff member and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico. My professional work involves configuration management of scientific and engineering knowledge and information. My passion, however, lies in using appreciative approaches to improve workplace performance.

Rad Resource

Recently I read “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White. The authors categorize the five appreciative languages as: (1) words of affirmation; (2) quality time; (3) acts of service; (4) tangible gifts; and (5) physical touch. In the workplace, we often overlook the impact that appreciative inquiry and language have on organizational and individual performance. Authentic appreciation, when expressed in the primary appreciative language of the individual, can be a strong motivator, trust builder, and empowering influence, often uplifting the individual and organization into high performance.

Hot Tip

Appreciation is not recognition or reward. The focus of appreciation is intrinsic. The focus of recognition and reward is extrinsic. Organizational reward and recognition programs focus on performance. Appreciation is personally meaningful, focusing on who a person is. The typical “one size fits all” reward and recognition program is usually managerially directed and impersonal, often lending skepticism as to the genuineness of the leader’s intentions. The ultimate downside to the reward/recognition approach is the cost involved. Motivating through authentic appreciation has no financial cost, but is truly priceless!

In what ways can leaders apply appreciative approaches to transform relationships, attitudes, and performance in the workplace?

 

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Business, Leadership and Performance (BLP) TIG Week with our colleagues in the BLP AEA Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our BLP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

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