Cultural diversity in educational institutions is crucial to their success. When students of different backgrounds and perspectives come together in the classroom, it brings a more well-rounded learning experience. That’s why diversity in student profiles plays a huge role in an educational institution’s quality.
Lockdowns introduced lifestyle changes that improved our online activities like never before. It’s also made education more accessible than ever. For this reason, students that previously couldn’t be present on-site now have more flexibility. All thanks to convenient e-learning options.
If educational institutions and school districts want to be more diverse, they need to appeal to multicultural students. How? By accommodating their different backgrounds and language abilities. Since educational websites provide key information throughout the academic experience, they’re often consulted by students, parents or guardians who might not be bilingual. Which is why they need to be available in different languages.
With that said, a multilingual educational website is a crucial resource for everyone involved. To be academically competitive, institutions must focus on education translation.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the main drivers, benefits, and considerations for education translation to help you get started.
Why is education translation important?
Accessibility and inclusivity
Educational institutions need to optimize their websites to accommodate students worldwide. Though many institutions target native students, there’s still a lot of cultural diversity found here.
For example, an estimated 4.9 million children in U.S. public schools are EEL students. That means they are English Language Learners who speak a language other than English (usually Spanish) as their native language. They also have limited English proficiency. Similarly, many students speak a language other than their academic language at home.
Even fluent students can struggle to understand educational terminology in their learning materials. As a result, they’ll often experience setbacks, delays, and misunderstandings. By providing multilingual content on their websites, institutions can ensure equal access to information and academic opportunities.
International visibility and recognition
What’s the best way for international students to discover an educational institution? Having an online presence in multiple languages.
To get on the radar of various educational rankings, institutions should first make their website understandable to various media. This includes foreign magazines, newspapers, websites, governments, or academics that conduct research. When these entities understand the education programs offered, they’ll easily recognize the educational institution’s value.
Multilingual representation makes it easier for publications and media channels to mention educational institutions. International audiences will then discover them faster. As a result, more students, educators, and academic partners can interact with educational institutions. This will lead to more meaningful engagement, like partnerships, scholarships, and more applications.
Promoting cultural diversity
As our societies become more multicultural, the way we communicate, learn and work evolves. That also increases the need for language translation to ensure that all information is easily accessible to students of different backgrounds.
The more diverse an institution is, the more exposure students get toward different cultures in their academic lives. They become more equipped to succeed in their professional pursuits, which will undoubtedly be filled with people of various ethnicities and native languages.
This is why students and institutions are constantly seeking cultural diversity. But it’s not always easy to find. Luckily, website translation is a powerful strategy that can help institutions attract visitors from target countries and diversify their student profiles.
Even seeing their native language as an option on a website signals to students that they are welcome at the institution, creating an instant connection. When international students easily understand key information, like the requirements and conditions for applying, they’ll be more inclined to start the application process.
Improving student engagement
Educational websites are full of useful information, ranging from academic functionalities to after-school events. Since education systems differ in each country, international students might feel lost when faced with procedures that they aren’t familiar with.
By translating your educational institution’s website, you can help all students understand academic activities. Without language barriers, they’ll be encouraged to participate more. This will also help international students benefit from the teaching experience and educational materials to their fullest.
How to translate education websites?
Academic Translation and Interpretation Services
It’s clear that educational institutions should translate their website. But what is the ideal solution? Is it translation companies that provide educational translation services or academic interpretation services?
This could be a good option for institutions with multilingualism at the core of their educational offering. Professional service providers would be even more useful for translating diplomas, handbooks, or other educational materials. But, most institutions don’t have the resources for intensive translation needs. Academic translation services come with high costs, long waiting times, and tiresome maintenance.
Machine translation engines
So what’s a cheaper and faster alternative than opting for professional translation services? Machine translation engines like Google Translate or DeepL, of course. However, manually connecting these tools to your website, displaying translations, and implementing other technical requirements is a tedious process. So this calls for development expertise that many educational institutions don’t have in-house.
Moreover, machine translation engines can’t deliver error-free translation all the time—something even language services can’t promise. Any misunderstandings caused by inaccurate translations can significantly damage your educational institution’s reputation and credibility.
Website Translation Solutions
What if there was a hybrid solution that enhances the strengths and diminishes the weaknesses of these two methods? This is where Weglot comes into play. It helps educational institutions go multilingual without having to dedicate high budgets or lengthy waiting periods.
Weglot starts by detecting and instantly translating the content of your website with AI-powered translation engines. The result? High-quality translations. Then, you can edit these translations yourself, with teammates, or order professional translations by qualified translators directly from your dashboard.
There’s no need to worry about the technical procedures like displaying your translated pages and implementing hreflang tags. Why? Weglot automatically takes care of them. You can instantly go multilingual without having technical expertise or relying on developers.
Moreover, you can take your multilingual website project to the next level with features like auto-redirection, media translations, or the glossary!
Best practices for multilingual education websites
The best place to start when you’re deciding on the languages to target is your current website visitor demographic. Even if your website is not translated yet, you’ll still have visitors from other countries. It’s a strong indicator that you’ll benefit from optimizing your website for this audience.
To find this data, you can check your visitors’ location or browser language on Google Analytics. If you’re using a website translation solution like Weglot, this information is readily available on your dashboard.
Target underrepresented cultures
Another strategy is to target underrepresented cultures in your institution to boost diversity. To achieve this, start by analyzing your current student population. Then, identify missing continents, countries, or ethnicities.
By translating your website, you’ll start appearing in search results and reach your target audience where they are looking for educational institutions. This will give you a head start among your competitors. What’s more, you’ll further increase your chances of acquiring students from target countries. All thanks to the localized enrolment experience your website provides.
Consider providing variants
You can translate your website to language variants (British English, Mexican Spanish, Lebanese Arabic, etc.) to take your targeting a step further. For example, French is spoken in many countries. But translating your website to Belgian French clearly indicates that your institution welcomes students from Belgium.
The same goes for large countries that speak many different languages, such as China or India. Thanks to word of mouth, your institution might be popular among students from a specific region. Even better, you can enhance representation by translating your website to language variants and targeting specific areas.
Dedicated keyword research
Keywords are one of the most impactful elements of websites. That’s why it requires extra attention when going multilingual. Considering their power in matching your website with the right audience, they should be treated as assets rather than mere words.
So be aware that when you translate keywords in the literal sense, you might be missing the mark, as educational jargon varies greatly based on country. Even the same term that is used in multiple languages might mean different things in the context of education.
For example, the word college in English is defined as “an educational institution providing higher education or specialized professional training.” However, the same word means middle school in French and refers to private educational institutions in Turkish.
For the best results, conduct a dedicated keyword search for your target country and plan a customized multilingual SEO strategy.
When you want to host translated versions of your website, you need to choose the right URL structure. Depending on preference, there are three options to choose from:
- Top level domain (e.g. English version: www.example.en)
- Subdomain (e.g. Spanish version es.example.com)
- Subdirectory (e.g. Korean version www.example.com/ko)
It’s not possible to say one of these structures is superior to another. It all depends on your institutional framework and how you want to organize your translated content under your website.
Our guide on subdirectories vs subdomains to understand the key differences between them. It will also help you determine the best URL structure for your educational institution.
Among the best multilingual SEO practices, language consistency has a prominent place. In the web translation process, important elements such as the navigation menu, footer, popups, and user-generated content often go unnoticed. When left untranslated, it weakens the true impact that could be achieved from multilingual content.
Sticking to one language per page doesn’t only prevent search engines from interfering with your page content. It also ensures a uniform user experience for international visitors.
Adaptation of education terminology
As we mentioned before, academic language is specific by nature. The terminology varies based on the country and the educational system. Localization, the practice of adapting the content to make it resonate with the target audience, ensures your translated pages convey the accurate meaning.
Moreover, some terms might not even have a direct equivalent in another language due to the differences in the educational system. This is where you’ll have to pay extra attention to the translation process and go the extra mile to modify your translated content so that your audience understands it.
When it comes to website translation, disregarding cultural differences is a critical mistake. Things that are considered neutral in one language may be very offensive in another. There might be unexpected elements like images, links, or even emojis that can damage your content when left unchanged. It can even enhance your translations when localized.
Furthermore, differences in numbers, dates, currencies, or formats can twist the meaning of your translations. As these elements are vital to educational websites, make sure to research the usage of even the most seemingly basic formats.
Localization considers the complete user experience. As such, in addition to localizing your website content, you should also localize the website navigation. From the orientation of your page layout to e-learning features, web experiences that aren’t natural to users will impair the overall experience.
You can get an understanding of online habits and trends in a country by browsing the web in the target language. By copying the repetitive practices, you can create a user experience that feels familiar to visitors.
In today’s world, access to education is easier than ever, opening up opportunities to reach students worldwide. So website translation should become a fundamental practice for educational institutions. It would help them diversify their student population, enhance the academic experience, and promote inclusion.
To go multilingual with your educational website and welcome students all over the world, start your free Weglot trial today!