Background
Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a national nonprofit organization empowering students to thrive in an evolving world. It does this by providing STEM-based curriculums and training to schools across the United States. PLTW looked to LUNA to provide guidance on what to expect with a translation project, as well as for advice on the best and most cost-effective approaches to the project.

Many of the schools PLTW serves have limited English proficient and new English learner populations. In the United States, there are more than five million students who are English Language Learners, and the majority of these students are native Spanish speakers.

Challenge
PLTW realized students in the classrooms were not fully empowered because the language was a barrier to learning the information provided in the curriculums. The biggest challenge for PLTW was securing funding to make the project a reality. LUNA had a few other challenges to consider, including:

  • A vast amount of content to evaluate for the quoting process;
  • Finding cost-effective solutions to work within PLTW’s budget;
  • Working within a short deadline for 38 module translations; and
  • Issues such as how to handle non-editable images, as well as managing the shear amount of information involved in this project.

Our team was prepared to work with PLTW’s needs and manage these issues.

Solution
Two project managers, seven translators, three editors, four desktop publishing artists, and six formatting assistants were part of the team that worked to:

  • Provide competitive pricing, expertise, and timely communication in the quoting process;
  • Organize, review, and process over a million words to provide an accurate estimate of the time, effort, and skills needed to complete the work;
  • Coordinate timelines in spreadsheets as well as master projects for each section of the work so that individual projects could easily be tracked based on the budget limitations; and
  • Implement the translation in Inkling, PLTW’s e-learning platform.

PLTW also engaged six teacher reviewers to help LUNA ensure translations were on the right track.

Results
Not only was the text in the curriculum translated, but external resources were also part of the translation project, including:

  • Worksheets
  • Videos
  • Voiceover
  • Flashcards
  • Slide decks
  • Quizzes

As the goal was language access for English Language Learners and their families, the inclusion of all of the pieces of PLTW’s curriculum reinforced the main text.

When PLTW announced that the content would be available in Spanish, they received a standing ovation at one of their conferences. LUNA also received teacher feedback that the content read as if it were written in Spanish, not translated from English. This is the highest compliment a translator can receive.

Concluding Thoughts
Budgeting is one of the biggest concerns for projects such as curriculum translation. Evaluating student performance, surveying teachers, and perhaps starting with a test section or module can help to provide the strong support needed for making the case to your budget committee or outside funders.

LUNA looks forward to continuing a partnership with PLTW for future translation projects and being part of the impact its curriculum is having on students across the country.

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