When you apply to a university or job in another country, you may need to get your transcripts and other academic records translated. If your academic records are originally in a language other than English, official translation either through a certified or notarized translator is required.
Also, translations of academic transcripts and course descriptions must be accurate. Therefore, we have listed some tips to help you understand how to translate your documents effectively.
Good Translation Is Expensive
Before submitting documents for translation, you should understand which documents need to be translated. Avoid over-translation and weed out unnecessary documents. Be aware that colleges, universities and credential evaluation agencies have widely differing requirements. You may need to determine in advance which types of academic documents they need: diplomas, certificates, exam results, course records, transcripts or course descriptions.
When in doubt, of course, it is better to err on the side of translating too much rather than too little. A good, accurate translation that honestly renders academic achievement from one language into another is all that matters.
A Translation Is Not An Explanation
Often the purpose of a translation can be ambiguous. A translation is not an explanation of a document, rather it is an accurate rendering, into a different language, of what the document actually says. Editorial comments are antithetical to accuracy, no matter how well intentioned. An official translation of an academic transcript should be a word-for-word rendering of the document from one language into another.
A translation is distinct from a credential evaluation. An evaluation explains the meaning of the transcript. Specifically, it explains a student’s academic performance in terms of an education system and grading system other than the one where he or she originally went to school. If you are seeking an evaluation of academic records that are transcribed in a language other than English, you must first have those documents translated by a professional and impartial translator.
Linguists Translate Only What Is Given
Sometimes the stamp on an academic transcript is extremely faint, or a signature is nearly illegible. Translators, however, make every effort to distinguish the text of the documents they work with. But a linguist can translate only the text that appears on the documents provided. If a smudge or mark renders a word, phrase, stamp or even a grade unclear, then the translation (and thus, the evaluation) may be missing vital information.
You must consider requesting cleaner copies or better reproductions of the original document. However, copies of documents should never be written on or marked up. White-out and/or ink marks can render a document suspicious and void a translation.
Provide Reference Materials To Translators
Translators of academic transcripts and course descriptions are professionals. They are conversant in academic terminology, phrases and educational jargon. Occasionally, however, a word or acronym used exclusively in a certain school or specific course can puzzle a translator. Providing the translator with documentation about the meaning of uncommon words or phrases will result in the most accurate translation possible.
Reference materials are not personal notes on how you want the translation to read. They are objective third-party sources such as published dictionaries, glossaries or an academic institution’s published course catalog.
When amateurs or bilingual friends translate academic documents, you run the risk of receiving a translation with minor (or even major) mistakes that could adversely affect the credential evaluation. Credential evaluators will rightly question the objectivity of a translation done by the document holder.
Only translations from independent and professional translation companies meet the highest standards of impartiality that schools, credential evaluators and government agencies demand.
For most official institutions, a certified translation of the official document following the standard format will be enough for acceptance. The certificate of accuracy assures that the translation is accurate and provides a true representation of the original document.
The term “certification” may be confusing, but both certified and notarized translations don’t necessarily need to be done by a certified translator. Essentially, any skilled professional translator can provide these translation services.
If you are in doubt whether you need a certified or notarized translation, ask the authorized institution receiving the final documents.