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Ask 11 questions to vet translation vendors

As an instructional designer, you understand the importance of clear communication and effective learning materials. Whether you're creating eLearning modules, manuals, or instructional videos, ensuring that your content reaches a global audience often requires translation services, either through a vendor or by in-house experts. If you need a translation vendor, choosing the right one can be a daunting task, especially if you've never done it before.


Through this lesson, you will identify essential questions to ask translation vendors during the vetting process.




1. What languages do you specialize in?


Determine if the translation vendor offers services in the languages you need. Some vendors may specialize in certain languages or regions, so it's essential to ensure they can handle your specific requirements.


2. What is your experience with instructional materials?


Not all translation vendors are equipped to handle instructional content. Inquire about their experience working with similar materials to ensure they understand the nuances of instructional design and can maintain the integrity of your content.


3. Can you provide samples of your previous work?


Reviewing samples of past translations can give you insight into the vendor's quality of work and their ability to maintain consistency in tone and terminology.


4. What is your quality assurance process?


Quality assurance is crucial in translation to ensure accuracy and consistency. Ask about the vendor's quality control measures, such as proofreading, editing, and use of translation memory tools (a software application that stores previously translated segments of text, allowing translators to reuse them for consistency and efficiency in subsequent translations).


5. How do you handle sensitive or confidential information?


If your instructional materials contain sensitive information, it's essential to ensure that the translation vendor has robust security protocols in place to protect confidentiality.


6. Do you utilize AI in the translation process, and if so, how? Is the content kept private, or is it used to train Language Models (LLMs)?


Understanding the use of AI in translation processes is crucial for transparency and ensuring the privacy of your content. Inquire about how the vendor employs AI and whether your content will be kept confidential or used for training language models.


7. What is your pricing structure?


Understand how the vendor calculates their fees – whether it's based on word count, project complexity, or other factors. Clarify any additional costs for revisions or rush deliveries.


8. What is your turnaround time?


Timeliness is crucial, especially if you have tight deadlines. Discuss the vendor's turnaround time for translation projects of similar size and complexity to ensure they can meet your timeline.


9. Do you offer localization services?


Localization goes beyond translation and involves adapting content to the cultural and linguistic nuances of the target audience. If you require localization services, ensure the vendor has the expertise to effectively adapt your instructional materials.


10. How do you handle revisions and feedback?


Miscommunications can occur during the translation process, so it's essential to clarify how the vendor handles revisions and incorporates feedback to ensure client satisfaction.


11. Can you provide references or client testimonials?


Hearing from previous clients can provide valuable insights into the vendor's reliability, professionalism, and quality of service. Don't hesitate to ask for references or seek out testimonials.


Summary and next steps


By asking these questions and carefully evaluating the responses, you can make an informed decision when choosing a translation vendor for your instructional design projects. Remember that finding the right partner is essential for ensuring the success of your global training initiatives and reaching a diverse audience effectively.


To learn more about translation processes and options, complete another free lesson, "Create global training with AI and personalized learning."

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