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Educational praxis, policy, and administration in translation


At S Swift Trans­la­tion, I enjoy work­ing with mod­ern and rather more old-fash­ioned teach­ing and learn­ing materials.

As a spe­cial­ist trans­la­tor of aca­d­e­m­ic research from the human­i­ties and social sci­ences (includ­ing edu­ca­tion­al research) from Ger­man to Eng­lish, I also trans­late texts that relate to edu­ca­tion­al pol­i­cy and texts address­ing prac­ti­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion require­ments aris­ing in edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions in Ger­manophone countries.

Such texts are often best entrust­ed to a trans­la­tor with a spe­cial­ism in edu­ca­tion, prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence in the area and an overview of the polit­i­cal, legal and organ­i­sa­tion­al struc­tures influ­enc­ing edu­ca­tion and research. At S Swift Trans­la­tion, I am par­tic­u­lar­ly famil­iar with the voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion and train­ing (VET) and ter­tiary edu­ca­tion sec­tors in Ger­many. This page focus­es on trans­la­tion in those areas; my gen­er­al approach to trans­la­tion and trans­la­tion projects is described elsewhere.

Top quality German > English translations for tertiary institutions

With spe­cial­ist exper­tise in the high­er edu­ca­tion sec­tor, S Swift Trans­la­tion is able to sup­ply accom­plished trans­la­tions to high­er edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions to meet their trans­la­tion require­ments in sev­er­al areas. Course cred­its and degrees award­ed need to be doc­u­ment­ed pre­cise­ly in Eng­lish to secure their recog­ni­tion in inter­na­tion­al con­texts and make it eas­i­er for stu­dents and grad­u­ates to take advan­tage of oppor­tu­ni­ties to study, work and car­ry out research abroad. Clear infor­ma­tion in Eng­lish on the con­tent of pro­grammes and on the prac­ti­cal work­ings of uni­ver­si­ties makes it eas­i­er for stu­dents and researchers from abroad to find their way around insti­tu­tions and to teach and learn suc­cess­ful­ly. Attrac­tive trans­la­tions into Eng­lish are, final­ly, also use­ful for image brand­ing pur­pos­es and can under­score the inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion of ter­tiary institutions.

Making academic performance and qualifications transparent

Pre­cise descrip­tions of learn­ing out­comes smooth the inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion of course cred­its and degree cours­es. Mak­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions and what they mean trans­par­ent is a par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge for trans­la­tors who work in edu­ca­tion. Clear and con­sis­tent trans­la­tions that make it eas­i­er for peri­ods of study and entire degrees to be recog­nised boost the mobil­i­ty and the career prospects of stu­dents and grad­u­ates. It is, of course, not the task of trans­la­tors to eval­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tions and deter­mine their equiv­a­lents in oth­er coun­tries; such ques­tions are best dealt with by the spe­cial­ist com­pe­tent bod­ies. Even with­in Ger­many and with­out any of the added com­pli­ca­tions of mul­ti­lin­gual­ism, the pre­cise sig­nif­i­cance of par­tic­u­lar qual­i­fi­ca­tions is often far from clear at first sight.

Trans­la­tors must, how­ev­er, avoid exag­ger­a­tion and under­state­ment when trans­lat­ing texts such as cer­tifi­cate or diplo­ma sup­ple­ments – that is deci­sive and a mat­ter of fair­ness. Europass diplo­ma sup­ple­ments are a proven instru­ment, but their trans­la­tion requires enor­mous pre­ci­sion in pin­point­ing the exact stan­dard of the knowl­edge, skills and com­pe­tences which have been gained and demon­strat­ed so that employ­ers and high­er edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions abroad can attain a clear sense of the aca­d­e­m­ic exper­tise and pro­fes­sion­al com­pe­tences of a can­di­date. Such seem­ing­ly harm­less con­cepts as “basic” skills need to be han­dled with cau­tion to avoid mis­rep­re­sent­ing or dis­tort­ing the achieve­ments of grad­u­ates. Eng­lish texts could, for exam­ple, inad­ver­tent­ly sug­gest that grad­u­ates of a par­tic­u­lar pro­gramme have acquired only the most rudi­men­ta­ry knowl­edge of a field when what is meant is not that the learn­ing out­comes were triv­ial, but sim­ply that Bach­e­lor stu­dents have not acquired quite the same pro­found grasp of a sub­ject as Mas­ters stu­dents, or that minor sub­jects have not been stud­ied in the same breath and depth as majors. It fol­lows that trans­la­tors of cer­tifi­cate and diplo­ma sup­ple­ments need to pay close atten­tion to both the spe­cif­ic texts they are trans­lat­ing and the wider con­text. Accu­rate, mul­ti­lin­gual doc­u­men­ta­tion of learn­ing out­comes is becom­ing ever more rel­e­vant as the ide­al of life­long learn­ing gains in impor­tance and increas­ing­ly flex­i­ble learn­ing path­ways in increas­ing­ly per­me­able and inter­na­tion­al­ly-ori­ent­ed edu­ca­tion sys­tems come to depend more and more on the pro­vi­sion of cor­rect, trans­par­ent and read­i­ly com­pre­hen­si­ble documentation.

Professional translations for clarity, efficiency and practicality in routine communication

Clear, pro­fes­sion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion can also sim­pli­fy rou­tine admin­is­tra­tive mat­ters. A lack of clar­i­ty in trans­la­tions of course admis­sion require­ments, course con­tent or job descrip­tions could poten­tial­ly cre­ate con­fu­sion and lead to unnec­es­sary queries (adding to the work­load of staff) or even to cost­ly legal dis­putes. Such con­fu­sion can be avoid­ed by trans­la­tors and high­er edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions co-oper­at­ing close­ly: when a trans­la­tor encoun­ters an ambi­gu­i­ty in a text and asks a ques­tion in order to resolve it, staff are spared from respond­ing to the same query numer­ous times when trans­la­tion users stum­ble across the issue.

Attractive translations that underscore the reputation of higher education institutions

Good trans­la­tions sup­port ter­tiary insti­tu­tions as they strive for inter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion and excel­lence. Thor­ough, con­sis­tent and read­able trans­la­tions can con­tribute to prepar­ing the ground for suc­cess­ful coop­er­a­tive ven­tures with part­ner insti­tu­tions. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, how­ev­er, the con­verse is equal­ly true: incon­sis­tent or erro­neous trans­la­tions can under­mine con­fi­dence in an insti­tu­tion. And since Eng­lish texts used in ter­tiary edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions tend to be pro­duced by many dif­fer­ent peo­ple, it is near-inevitable that incon­sis­ten­cies will creep in over time. Pro­fes­sion­al trans­la­tors with appro­pri­ate tools at their dis­pos­al can mon­i­tor the con­sis­ten­cy of trans­la­tions (ver­i­fy­ing, for exam­ple, that defined cor­po­rate word­ing or spelling guide­lines have been adhered to). Using mod­ern Trans­la­tion Mem­o­ry sys­tems also ensures that trans­la­tions can eas­i­ly be updat­ed from semes­ter to semes­ter or from one year to the next, and that their con­tent can be recy­cled in a vari­ety of file for­mats – from print­ed texts such as image brochures, infor­ma­tion mate­r­i­al and prospec­tus­es through to use on the uni­ver­si­ty website.

German-English translations for the vocational education and training sector

As a trans­la­tor with voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion and train­ing among my key spe­cialisms, I trans­late texts relat­ing to research and to the for­mu­la­tion of pol­i­cy in the field as well as more prac­ti­cal­ly-ori­ent­ed texts need­ed for admin­is­tra­tive or pro­mo­tion­al activities.

Voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion and train­ing in Ger­many strikes a fine bal­ance between the desires and abil­i­ties of young peo­ple, the inter­ests of indi­vid­ual com­pa­nies and entire indus­tries, and the needs of soci­ety as a whole. The excel­lent rep­u­ta­tion enjoyed by Germany’s voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion and train­ing sys­tem with­in and out­side Ger­many (nour­ished, not least, by the country’s strong eco­nom­ic com­pet­i­tive­ness and remark­ably low lev­els of youth unem­ploy­ment) is fre­quent­ly traced back to the shar­ing of respon­si­bil­i­ty for ini­tial and advanced voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion in the Ger­man dual-track train­ing mod­el between the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, the fed­er­al states, the social part­ners and com­pa­nies in a fash­ion that ensures all have a strong inter­est in secur­ing and con­tin­u­ing to enhance the qual­i­ty and attrac­tive­ness of voca­tion­al train­ing and its rel­e­vance to labour mar­ket needs.

Trans­la­tors need to repro­duce the dis­tinct posi­tions held by mem­bers of this remark­ably broad and diverse coali­tion of stake­hold­ers clear­ly and pre­cise­ly. To this end, they must first have under­stood the dif­fer­ent roles of state agen­cies, train­ing providers and organ­i­sa­tions rep­re­sent­ing com­pa­nies, employ­ees, and sec­toral and region­al inter­ests. They also need a com­pre­hen­sive overview of the insti­tu­tion­al and organ­i­sa­tion­al struc­tures under­ly­ing the def­i­n­i­tion and peri­od­ic over­haul­ing of train­ing reg­u­la­tions, and of the fund­ing, deliv­ery and assess­ment of voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion and training.

The dif­fer­ence between Rah­men­lehrpläne and the sim­i­lar-sound­ing Aus­bil­dungsrah­men­pläne is obvi­ous, for exam­ple, to a trans­la­tor who can draw on back­ground knowl­edge as well as lan­guage com­pe­tence and is aware that the for­mer term describes the frame­work cur­ricu­lum defin­ing the con­tent trainees cov­er in voca­tion­al schools, while the lat­ter encom­pass­es the prac­ti­cal skills to be acquired by trainees in the course of their com­pa­ny-spe­cif­ic training.

Back­ground knowl­edge helps trans­la­tors to pro­duce clear and pre­cise trans­la­tions that lend them­selves to bridg­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion gaps that can arise in the exchange of ideas between stake­hold­ers with dif­fer­ent van­tage points (depend­ing, for exam­ple, on whether they are com­ing from a busi­ness per­spec­tive or from the state-run edu­ca­tion sec­tor, or on whether their back­grounds are in ini­tial and con­tin­u­ing – “post-sec­ondary, non-ter­tiary” – voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion, or in high­er edu­ca­tion). This is par­tic­u­lar­ly true in the con­text of the cur­rent fault line sep­a­rat­ing the “new” lan­guage of learn­ing out­comes defined in terms of knowl­edge, skills and com­pe­tences from the tra­di­tion­al approach to judg­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions pri­mar­i­ly in terms of learn­ing inputs.

International cooperation on VET research and policy

Ger­many is the world’s biggest donor in the area of voca­tion­al train­ing coop­er­a­tion with devel­op­ing coun­tries, but demand for coop­er­a­tive ven­tures with Ger­many in the realm of train­ing pol­i­cy has also run high in devel­oped economies in recent years as var­i­ous coun­tries have sought to trans­fer ele­ments from the Ger­man mod­el of dual voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion into their own voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion and train­ing sys­tems, often with a view to boost­ing both eco­nom­ic com­pet­i­tive­ness and social cohe­sion and par­tic­i­pa­tion. Recent and cur­rent EU, OECD and bilat­er­al polit­i­cal ini­tia­tives have focused on the val­ue of learn­ing in work process­es, espe­cial­ly in the con­text of com­pa­ny-based train­ing, as well as on the impor­tance of bind­ing stan­dards, qual­i­fied train­ing per­son­nel and ongo­ing research and mon­i­tor­ing programmes.

Inter­na­tion­al co-oper­a­tion in the area of VET is no one-way street, how­ev­er, but a rec­i­p­ro­cal learn­ing process in which infor­ma­tion and ideas exchanged inter­na­tion­al­ly and at Euro­pean lev­el have also fed into the rapid evo­lu­tion of VET in Ger­many in recent years as the new chal­lenges posed by demo­graph­ic change, ris­ing skill require­ments in today’s knowl­edge-based econ­o­my, and the grow­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty of ter­tiary edu­ca­tion among school leavers with ris­ing edu­ca­tion­al aspi­ra­tions are addressed. The trans­paren­cy and com­pa­ra­bil­i­ty of qual­i­fi­ca­tions and the mobil­i­ty of their hold­ers in the Euro­pean labour mar­ket has been boost­ed through the estab­lish­ment and elab­o­ra­tion of the eight-lev­el Ger­man Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Frame­work for Life­long Learn­ing (inte­grat­ed with the Euro­pean Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Frame­work for Life­long Learn­ing) and the com­pil­ing of Europass Cer­tifi­cate Sup­ple­ments doc­u­ment­ing the knowl­edge, skills and com­pe­tences acquired by hold­ers of voca­tion­al train­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Per­me­abil­i­ty between the dual sys­tem and high­er edu­ca­tion is cur­rent­ly being enhanced in both direc­tions, and hybrid forms such as dual study pro­grams com­bin­ing in-com­pa­ny work expe­ri­ence with ter­tiary stud­ies at insti­tu­tions like coop­er­a­tive uni­ver­si­ties and uni­ver­si­ties of applied sci­ences are becom­ing more wide­spread. Increas­ing­ly dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed pro­grammes and flex­i­ble forms of learn­ing (often with blend­ed learn­ing com­po­nents) are being devel­oped to pro­mote inclu­sion and equal oppor­tu­ni­ties and mit­i­gate future skills bot­tle­necks by cater­ing bet­ter to the needs of dis­parate groups who have not always been able to access opti­mal train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and sup­port in the past. The mobil­i­ty of trainees (and with it the attrac­tive­ness of voca­tion­al pro­grammes in com­par­i­son with ter­tiary edu­ca­tion) is expand­ing rapid­ly through the more wide­spread imple­men­ta­tion of Eras­mus+ and oth­er pro­grammes. Process­es for the assess­ment and recog­ni­tion of for­eign voca­tion­al qual­i­fi­ca­tions in Ger­many have also improved.

For me as a trans­la­tor with a focus on edu­ca­tion, work­ing to facil­i­tate the suc­cess­ful inter­na­tion­al trans­fer of exper­tise between state organ­i­sa­tions, think tanks, foun­da­tions, com­pa­nies and indus­try organ­i­sa­tions in this dynam­ic envi­ron­ment has repeat­ed­ly proven inter­est­ing and reward­ing. I trans­late research papers and pre­sen­ta­tions, admin­is­tra­tive doc­u­men­ta­tion such as fund­ing appli­ca­tions and project reports, and con­sul­ta­tion and pol­i­cy documents.

Promoting training internationally and organising mobility

Mak­ing high-qual­i­ty voca­tion­al edu­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grammes avail­able is half the bat­tle – com­mu­ni­cat­ing what is on offer suc­cess­ful­ly the oth­er half. Skills bot­tle­necks can devel­op when infor­ma­tion, guid­ance or trans­paren­cy are lack­ing, or when geo­graph­i­cal mis­match­es between the sup­ply and demand of train­ing places go unad­dressed. Ger­man ini­tial and con­tin­u­ing voca­tion­al train­ing providers inter­est­ed in tap­ping into the dynam­ic and grow­ing inter­na­tion­al mar­ket for train­ing ser­vices in many regions of the world may ben­e­fit from cogent Ger­man > Eng­lish trans­la­tions as part of their mar­ket­ing at con­fer­ences, sem­i­nars, and edu­ca­tion fairs. Ger­man com­pa­nies recruit­ing trainees or skilled staff from out­side the coun­try or organ­is­ing mobil­i­ty for trainees may also wish to avail of con­vinc­ing trans­la­tions of pro­mo­tion­al or infor­ma­tion mate­r­i­al, or of doc­u­men­ta­tion such as learn­ing agreements.

English translations of course and teaching materials

In my core areas of exper­tise with­in the human­i­ties and the social sci­ences, I trans­late course mate­ri­als and train­ing man­u­als for use in high­er edu­ca­tion, adult edu­ca­tion and in fur­ther edu­ca­tion and train­ing cours­es. Thanks to my own stock of teach­ing expe­ri­ence, I can antic­i­pate how con­tent will be received and ori­ent my trans­la­tions to the needs of spe­cif­ic tar­get groups.