Sunday, January 5, 2020

Tips for Creating Translatable Content

If you work in a school where English is not the first language of all students then families may have a hard time understanding what is happening in schools. This is because families are unable to access content due to language barriers. However you can address this issue by creating inclusive content. Inclusive content is more easily accessed by those with disabilities and more easily translatable by a machine.

Elements of Inclusive Language

Plain Language

Ensure staff understand how to create content written in plain language. This means that content is written at a grade 9 or below reading level.

Some tips for doing this include:
  • Use simple, everyday, words 
  • Write in short sentences 
  • Use active voice 

You can check your reading level using tools such as:


Write months in letters, not numbers. For example: May 1, 2019 instead of 5/1/2019. That's because in some languages that is read as January 5, 2019.

Matching Subjects

Use the same word for the same subject. For example: Students went to the Hall of Science. The Hall of Science is in Corona, Queens. Corona is a neighborhood with many schools. These schools educate students. 

Why write this way? 

Translation tools will not have to guess how to translate a pronoun which can look different based on grammar rules. These tools also won’t have to guess relationships.

Relative Pronouns

Include relative pronouns: who, whose, whom, which, and that. These words connect the noun to its description.


  • Don't write: This is the book everyone is talking about.  
  • Instead use: This is the book that everyone is talking about. 

Why write this way? 

We often leave relative pronouns out when speaking. We assume that everyone knows what we mean. We can do that because of the way English works--many other languages need relative pronouns for clarity and accurate translations.

Your turn:

Go to a page on your district, school, or class webpage and follow the tips above to update content. Do a before and after test to see how the updates provide a more machine-friendly translation.

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