Looking Back on The Last 20 Years in the Translation Industry

There were a lot of changes in the translation industry over the last 20 years, partly because of advancements in technology, manufacturing, medical research, economic issues, and competition. Here are the ten biggest areas that saw change:

1. Going from a cottage industry to being listed on the stock exchange; translation is a big business.

2. What seems like more translation service providers for companies to choose from is actually European, Chinese and Indian translation agencies marketing in the United States. Having seen the potential and growth in the United States translation market, they strategically set their sights on it which has driven down the cost and quality resulting in confusion, lack of trust, and costly mistakes by translation buyers.

3. FIGS (French, Italian, German and Spanish) gave way to companies having a standard of upwards to 23 official languages that they produce all material in (FIGS, plus Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Czech, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, or Hindi)

4. Translators are professionally trained, certified and tech savvy. One can no longer expect that just knowing a foreign language is good enough to be a translator. There are translation degrees, industry guidelines and explicit ISO and ASTM guidelines for translators.

5. What was once considered not worth translating is now required, such as product labeling, instructions for use, and clinical study material. The localization of a product’s software, displays and help files are built into the cost of the product. Software developers cannot just rely on having the translation of manuals as being good enough to sell the product.

6. Translation memory software is not a monopoly and there are options available for both agencies and translators which are, for the most part, fully compatible with each other.

7. We have evolved from delivering hardcopy translations by mail or overnight delivery, to faxing them, to email and electronic delivery via ftp sites, using different types of desktop publishing software that was not available 20 years ago.

8. Project Management tools developed and marketed specifically to the translation industry, as well as a real sales force in place for most translation service providers.

9. Translation for use in the United States has increased. Stores in the United States like Wal-Mart, Sears, and Home Depot have bilingual signage and some stores require product packaging to be bilingual. There are communities of Russian, Arabic and Indian speakers that state school systems must be able to teach, communicate and test students as well as offer English as a second language programs.

10. More material requires translation. It is not just the legal contracts to export material or printed sales sheets and advertisements. There are different types of methods we use to communicate with now. Consider the importance of the internet and web sites, e-learning, podcasts, voice command technology and apps used in today’s society. Customers use the web site to find people to do business with and even buy products directly. That information needs to be translated to gain more market share. Companies have more global offices and need to effectively train their employees with online materials, PowerPoint slides, or communicate vital information via podcasts.

The Best Online English Courses

1) The BASIC e-learning tools:

There are many English websites that boast numerous “tools” for learning such as interactive social media, pen pals, periodic quizzes and games. If it is TOO fun, if there are too many DISTRACTIONS away from basic e-learning tools; then you can BET that these courses don’t evaluate your English progress honestly.

Most online and offline courses would rather pass you, or give you an easy test that you get a high mark in so that you will FEEL GOOD and study with them again (= more money for them). Do you really want to keep paying again and again for very little results? Or would you rather have qualified, honest teachers PUSH YOU so that you don’t need to keep coming back for years and years and paying for lessons and test scores that involve childlike things such as smiley face graphics!

2) SUPPORT from REAL people:

It used to be that people could go to any website and easily find a “contact us” page and telephone number. Now it seems that the larger the companies get, the more distant they are in their approach to customer support. They hide their contact details on their websites. They have question and answer pages where you have to read for a long time to maybe have your questions answered.

You are paying for support when you learn English online. Make sure you learn from a company that treats you like a person by providing clear contact details and has staff there to give you real support.

3) Live English assessments from professional English teachers:

Of course it is easier for online English course providers to give out quizzes that are marked by the computer automatically. It is also easier for you, as you don’t have the anxiety of a live examination. Live English assessments are ESSENTIAL to English learning success online. Moreover, you need the assessments to be carried out by a professional English teacher.

4) Qualified English teachers. Not just native English speakers getting paid to have a conversation with you:

You are paying for Skype English lessons and online English e-learning courses, AND that means that the sessions need to involve English education, not just English immersion. There are way too many big organisations that don’t provide their customers with quality teachers because they hide under the philosophy that people should be “immersed” in English, rather than hiring proper teachers that can apply quality, well researched teaching methodologies. This is sad because when students start learning with other quality online English organisations; they realise just how much money and TIME they’ve wasted.

5) Affordable, cheap online English lessons:

You are learning online which means that you don’t have to travel. It also means that for the company that you’re learning from, they don’t have to pay rent, electricity etc. The lessons must be affordable and cheap!

Teaching Advanced English Language Learners

Dynamics of Advanced Classes:

Advanced courses often have more diversity, with students from a variety of countries. They often have higher levels of literacy, and they aspire to much more academically. Advanced students are usually more autonomous (self-governing) learners.

Some advanced learners are accustomed to learning grammar as it’s integrated into a communication-focused curriculum. If they’ve learned early levels of English through a grammar-translation approach, they have probably gained listening and speaking skills along the way. If that’s the case, they are highly aware of the need for a continued focus on listening and speaking. Also, they might have a concern for accent reduction if people have difficulty understanding them. Advanced students are particularly interested in the natural flow in speaking fluency.

A primary difference in the advanced student and the lower-level student is that the advanced student can recognize the difference in issues related to the sound systems and those related to language structure. They are able to recognize the differences in idioms and expressions, and they can appreciate a modern-linguistics approach as it becomes clear to them. Literacy is always an issue on any level of language learning; reading comprehension and speed become a concern to advanced students, as they delve more into dense-text and academic reading materials.

Advanced Attitudes and Corresponding Protocols:

Some advanced students are strict about grammar rules, but many are much more flexible. Depending on their levels of education and/or their world views, they are likely to have an understanding of how language and culture are related, and they can deal with the difference in a descriptive perspective and a prescriptive perspective. They are now more comfortable making conversation with strangers and more likely to challenge teachers; therefore, it’s important to teach them effective protocols for those exchanges.


Because students now have a fairly good command of English, they love to debate, and talk about politics, history, the arts and entertainment, social issues, most current events, and global perspectives and prospects. They are interested in correct English, but more so in pragmatic competency. They are more apt to take pride in their particular accent.

Grammar (language structure):

There are specific language structures that concern advanced students much more than beginning-level students. Advanced students are more aware of comparative analysis of English to their native language.

Some of the grammar issues:

  • tense and aspects of verbs
  • noun phrases
  • phrasal verbs
  • infinitives
  • gerunds
  • complex sentences
  • adverbial clauses
  • relative clauses
  • noun clauses
  • conditional clauses (real and unreal)
  • reduced adverbial clauses
  • modals and auxiliary verbs
  • punctuation

Textbooks and/or Authentic Materials:

When students have a high-intermediate-to-lower-advanced-level grasp of English, they can learn well from authentic materials. Some of the lower-advanced students need grammar exercises to fill in gaps in the learning of language structure. The problem is that many advanced students feel they need a textbook because that is the way they’ve been learning, and they feel they are progressing only if they are doing workbook exercises. It’s important to be respectful of their feelings about learning language. If it’s necessary to use a textbook, be sure to supplement it gradually by incorporating real-life items, including newspapers, contemporary narrative and poetry, music, internet articles and sites, radio audio, and so forth. Also, encourage students to bring in items of interests. Perhaps an even better approach would be to use authentic materials for the crux of each lesson, and supplement with a page or two from a textbook or workbook as a warm up.

Advanced Language-Learning Strategies:

  • check for comprehensible input and output
  • create peer-review activities for writing
  • chart errors for self and one another
  • use a lexical approach to build meaningful vocabulary
  • develop strategies for mastering specific competencies
  • create groups for committees, forums and panels
  • brainstorm discussion starters and then practice them
  • develop activities for listening skills
  • team up with others for oral presentations
  • practice non-verbal communication skills

Things Advanced Students Like to Do:

  • discuss what they want to learn and why
  • blog in English
  • create video projects
  • Skype around the world from the classroom
  • become a celebrity and/or interview a celebrity
  • create lesson plans based on narratives
  • write and act out plays
  • create a class newspaper
  • Q&As, panels, and forums
  • interpret and critique movies
  • debate
  • protest
  • solve problems
  • untangle mysteries