Four Key Considerations to Keep in Mind When Translating an Academic Textbook

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Four Key Considerations to Keep in Mind When Translating an Academic Textbook

As academic institutions seek to broaden their global reach and attract a more diverse student body, it is critical that the institution’s educational material undergoes a thorough - yet meaningful - translation to ensure the dissemination of valuable knowledge for all scholars.

However, when the translation and adaptation of these academic textbooks and material is done incorrectly, or without sensitivity to cultural nuances, it can complicate the institution’s journey to leveling the playing field for all students - no matter their linguistic backgrounds.

If you are translating an academic textbook for an international audience, there are four key considerations to keep in mind:


Identify the target audience 

Like any academic writing project, it is critical to first consider the cultural, linguistic, and educational background of the intended readership. This will help you tailor the translation to their needs and level of understanding. 

For example, some cultures and languages pay particular attention to gender pronouns. The incorrect use of gender pronouns, within specific contexts, can drastically impact the manner in which the translation is received.


Find a qualified translator 

Look for a translator who is fluent in both the source language (the language of the original textbook) and the target language, and who has experience translating academic materials.

This is critical, as a translator with knowledge in both languages will also be aware of any cultural differences between the source language and the target language that may affect the way the text is understood. For instance, certain idioms or expressions may not translate well or may have different connotations in different cultures. 


Obtain permission 

Before you can translate the textbook, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. This may be the author, the publisher, or both. Once the translation is complete, have the translator submit the translated text to the copyright holder for final approval.


Review and revise the translation 

Have the translation reviewed and revised by experts in the field to ensure that it is accurate and up-to-date. This final review ensures the cultural adaptation, achieved through the translation, is done correctly and with sensitivity in order to ensure impactful learning experiences.

It is important to invest time and effort in the translation process to ensure that the translated textbook is of high quality and accurately conveys the content of the original text to an international audience. This ensures that current - and future - international students have the best and most meaningful educational experience. Therefore, by working with experienced translators and language experts, you can greatly improve the quality of the translation and help you reach a wider audience.

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