Language Assistance for LEP Individuals

The term “limited English proficiency” (alternatively “English-language learner” or “English learner”) is used in the United States to refer to a person whose primary language is not English and who has a limited ability to speak, read, write or understand English. There are laws at the federal, state and local levels that protect these individuals’ rights, including access to governmentally funded programs and activities.

One of the most significant laws is Executive Order 13166, signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 11, 2000. Entitled “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency”, the Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to persons with limited English proficiency, develop and implement a system to provide these services so that LEP persons have meaningful access to them. It also requires Federal agencies to work to ensure that recipients (agencies, nonprofits and other Federally funded organizations) provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries. All recipients of federal funds and all federal agencies are thus required by law to take reasonable steps to provide meaningful access to limited English proficient persons. This means that, regardless of a state or local jurisdiction’s official English or “English only” laws, entities receiving Federal funding must comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Title VI regulations prohibiting discrimination based on national origin, including those applicable to the provision of federally assisted services to persons with limited English proficiency. Title VI applies to a funding recipient’s entire program or activity, even if only one part of the recipient receives the funding.

LEP - Languages Services

It is crucial to ensure that written materials routinely provided in English also are provided in regularly encountered languages other than English. It is particularly important to make sure that vital documents are translated into the non-English language of LEP groups eligible to be served or likely to be affected by the program or activity. Documents are considered vital if the information they contain is critical for obtaining federal services and/or benefits, or is required by law, e.g., applications, consent and complaint forms, notices of rights and disciplinary action, notices advising LEP persons of the availability of free language assistance, prison rulebooks, written tests that do not assess English language competency, but rather competency for a particular license, job, or skill for which English competency is not required, and letters or notices that require a response from the beneficiary or client.

The Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (also known as ACA or “Obamacare”) includes requirements for insurers and the healthcare industry to provide translation and interpreting services for limited English proficiency (LEP) individuals in order to increase healthcare access for all, and explicitly requires translation of specific documents, including the Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) and the Uniform Glossary. However, translating other documents may be implied; for example, provision of claim and appeal notices most likely must be translated since they are to be presented in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner. The provision of these documents in plain and translated languages applies to all insurance plans, whether they are bought through an employer or privately.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act builds on both Title VI and Executive Order 13166 and furthers protection from discrimination by including any health program or activity any part of which receives Federal financial assistance, including insurance contracts, credit and subsidies. Section 1557 also extends non-discrimination protection to the Health Insurance Exchanges (as well as any other entity or Executive agency that administers a program or activity established under Title 1 of the ACA).

Translation events – January 2016

jan 2016 translation events


Evaluating Localization Providers: Results from a GALA Community Project
Globalization and Localization Association. Webinar.


Simultaneous Interpretation for Virtual Meetings The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG). San Jose, California USA


International Symposium: Bilingual Videoconferencing in Legal Settings. Criminal Justice Programme of the European Union. Paris, France.


Translation and Modernism: Twentieth-Century Crises and Traumas. University of Warwick. Coventry, UK.


Using Your Languages: Interpreting and Translation. University of Bath. Bath, UK


How does Modern Machine Translation Work? Globalization and Localization Association. Webinar



Boosting your productivity as a translator: Pomodoro apps

As we mentioned in our previous post, time management is a challenge faced by all freelance translators. Procrastination and distraction are the enemies of efficiency and productivity, but there are a number of ways that results-driven translators can increase productivity and still indulge themselves in checking social media and surfing the web.

One of the most popular is the Pomodoro Technique®, which was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and became the darling of business managers in the 1990s.

pomodoro technique for translators

The concept is simple: you break down a large task or series of tasks into easily doable timed bursts of 25 minutes of concentrated effort followed with a short break to prevent burnout and boost creativity. Although the inventor developed his system using a mechanical tomato-shaped timer (hence its name “pomodoro”, Italian for “tomato”) and a pencil and paper, modern technology has taken it a step further with a myriad of apps ranging from simple electronic versions of the original concept to highly complex systems that allow the length of work and rest periods to be adjusted, track users’ productivity by task, time and day of the week and even “reward” users as their productivity increases.

Over the next month, we’ll be testing the following three Android apps to find out more about their features and discover whether they are as effective as their reputation says.

Scheduler: Pomodoro Timer

Designed by Yaroslav Shevchuk, this system not only offers all the usual Pomodoro features, it also lets you create a task list, color-code your tasks and reorganize them. Highly customizable, it lets you set times for work and long and short breaks, choose display colors and alarms, offers statistics on work periods and results and displays a list of accomplished tasks. It’s also completely free and without ads.

Tomatina – Pomodor Timer

Produced by libtronics apps, this relatively simple system lets you configure your pomodoros and short and long breaks, offers vibration and sound on events along with statistics about your pomodoros that lets you measure your progress and compare it with past levels of productivity. It’s free of charge.

Pomodoro Challenge Timer

Produced by AXFN, this sytem features a Socialist realism esthetic that reveals the no-coddling attitude behind it: maximum productivity based on working harder, period. It tracks your productivity over days and weeks – including holidays and weekends – and you’ll earn or lose ranks based on your performance (you start out as an “unrepentant slacker”). It doesn’t offer to-do lists, and it doesn’t give you the option to interrupt a pomodoro. The basic version is free of charge.

Boosting your Productivity as a Translator

One of the benefits of working as a freelance translator is that you’re able to set your own schedule, but this can also be a drawback if you tend to procrastinate instead of tackling a job and organizing yourself to get it done by the deadline. In fact, procrastination – far from being the cause of deadline anxiety – is often a response to it. The reason is that challenging tasks (and translation is a challenging task) have both negative (e.g., fear that the project is too challenging) and positive (the sense of reward when you finish the project) psychological aspects. When the negative aspect outweighs the positive, we tend to procrastinate, which increases our anxiety as the deadline draws ever nearer, while we continue to make no progress. Even though no one likes to put a deadline on their creative process, deadlines are not only inevitable, but can actually be a motivating factor.

translator productivity

It’s all a matter of attitude, and that’s where the Pomodoro method comes in. Invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s as a personal system to get more studying done, the method came to the attention of business managers in the 1990s. The Pomodoro Technique® is a time management method that helps you transform time into a valuable ally by breaking down a large task or series of tasks into short, timed intervals. You become more productive because you accomplish the tasks that you set for yourself in timed bursts of concentrated effort – which boost productivity – rewarded with short breaks – which prevent burnout and distraction and refresh creativity – while at the same time allowing you to record your increasing productivity over time.

Learning the Pomodoro technique takes only minutes, and using it couldn’t be easier. All you really need is a timer, a pencil and a piece of paper. In fact, the technique’s name of Pomodoro (which means “tomato” in Italian) comes from the fact that the inventor used a tomato-shaped mechanical timer, but any kind of timer will do.

Here’s the method:

  1. Choose a task (or series of tasks) to be accomplished.
  2. Set the Pomodoro (your timer, and the name of the timed work unit) to 25 minutes.
  3. Focus on the task(s) and work without interruption until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your piece of paper.
  4. Take a short – e.g. – five-minute, break.
  5. Every four Pomodoros, take a longer break (e.g., 15 minutes to 25 minutes, or whatever you need to clear your mind and refresh your creativity).

Repeat throughout your workday. It’s important to note that each Pomodoro is an indivisible work unit. This is the key to the system: if you become distracted from your task for whatever reason (a phone call or email and so on), you must either end the Pomodoro then and there or postpone the distraction until the Pomodoro is finished.

It will come as no surprise that, when it comes to the Pomodoro method, “there’s an app for that”. In our next article, we’ll introduce some of the more popular apps that can help any translator to reduce procrastination and burnout, manage distractions, and increase their productivity and sense of accomplishment.

How Well Does Your Country Speak English?

Countries with best English

The EF English Proficiency Index is a yearly report card on the English proficiency level of adults across the globe produced by EF, a private education company. Because it is based on the scores of online tests (during 2014, for this report) taken by 910,000 adult and 70 countries, it does not reflect the entire population of the country.

Though the average level of adult English proficiency has risen, surprisingly, not all countries are improving and some are even getting worse. The research also indicates that higher English language proficiency correlates with higher income and a better quality of life. With just a few exceptions, women have stronger English language skills than men in all countries surveyed.

The results, by region:

Middle East and North Africa

The downward trend in English language proficiency was seen in the Middle East and North Africa. The United Arab Emirates – perhaps because of the large multinational workforce – Yemen and Morocco scored highest in the region, with Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Libya at the bottom of the ranking. Only the UAE earned a “low” score (50.87); the rest earned a “very low”, with Libya trailing with a score of 37.86.


The level of English language proficiency in Asia varies widely from very high proficiency to very low proficiency. Singapore (61.08), Malaysia and India have the region’s highest proficiency scores. Former British colonies, these countries have a long tradition of using English, especially in higher education institutions. Though China’s trend continues to be positive (49.41), it fell 10 places compared to last year partly due to the addition of three countries, but also because seven Latin American countries have shown more improvement than China. Thailand, Mongolia and Cambodia (39.15) scored the lowest.


While the level of English language proficiency in Europe also varies from very high to very low, with only four exceptions – France, Russia (both low), Turkey and Azerbaijan (both very low) – proficiency scores vary from moderate to very high, with the Nordic countries of Sweden (70.94), Netherlands and Denmark at the top of the list, hardly surprising, given their strong investment in education and the similarity between the structures of their languages and that of English. France is the only country in Western Europe to score very low in English language proficiency. Not only is it behind in comparison to its geographical neighbors, it also ranks below the less-developed countries Indonesia, Ukraine and Peru. The report mentioned a possible “cultural version” to English as the cause. Turkey is the only European country to fall in the ranking since the 2012 report.

Latin America

While the overall adult English proficiency level is still low, Latin America has shown slow improvement over the last eight years, chiefly among young people. Argentina (60.26) is the only Latin American country to score in the “high proficiency” range, and it is followed by Dominican Republic and Peru, while Colombia, Venezuela and El Salvador (45.52) are at the bottom of the ranking.

Translation events – November 2015

Translation events. November 2015


OPORTUNIDADES DE PERFECCIONAMIENTO EN EL EXTERIOR, Charla gratuita. Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Literatura y traducción. Charla gratuita. Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, Argentina.


56th ATA Conference. American Translators Association. Miami, Florida USA


Help & Localization Conference. Write2Users Helsingør, Denmark

1st Croatian Translation Forum. Croatian Association of Translation Agencies. Zagreb, Croatia

Introduction of CAT tools based on SDL Trados Studio 2015 (in Polish), webinar.


Adaptación de traducciones para doblaje. Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires, Argentina.


cworld 2015 – tekom. Stuttgart, Germany


Hellenic Language and Terminology. Hellenic Society for Terminology. Athens, Greece


Northern California Translators Association (NCTA). Workshop: Trados Studio 2015 for beginners. San Francisco, California, USA

Conferenza italiana di a Maranello, Modena. Maranello, Modena, Italy

How social media can enhance your freelance translation business, webinar.


Nordic Translation Industry Forum Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, Cecilia Enbäck. Reykjavik, Iceland


The Global Content Experience. The International Multilingual User Group (IMUG). San Jose, California USA


Congrès 2015 de l’OTTIAQ. Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec. Montreal, Quebec, Canada


InDialog: Community Interpreting In Dialogue With Technology. ICWE GmbH. Berlin, Germany


25th JTF Translation Festival. Japan Translation Federation. Tokyo, Japan


Translating and the Computer 37. AsLing. London, UK



Lunfardo: what do “garpar” and “garpe” mean?

One of the most interesting features of Lunfardo – an Argentine dialect of Spanish that arose in the late 19th century among petty criminals living with immigrants and native Argentines in the sheet metal tenements of lower-class Buenos Aires neighborhoods – is its great capacity for metathesis, the re-arrangement of sounds or syllables in a word. This local form of syllabic metathesis is known as “vesre” which is, in itself, a metathesis of “revés.” This phenomenon occurs not only with nouns – “feca” for “café”, for example – but also with verbs…and the verbs are then conjugated based on the vesre infinitive.


So, “pagar” (“to pay”) becomes “garpa”, from which – because it sounds like a third-person singular present conjugation – speakers intuitively form the infinitive “garpar”, in analogy with other -ar verbs, resulting in the infinitive “garpar”.

But it doesn’t stop there: the verb “garpar” has, in turn, given us “garpe”, a noun used in the expressions “dejar (a alguien) de garpe” or “ser dejado de garpe (por alguien)” meaning “to stand someone up” and that originates in the idea of leaving someone holding the bill after a meal shared among several people.

Here are a few examples:

Decile al quía que tiene que garpar. Tell the guy he has to pay.

No tenía para garpar la entrada y lo encaró al chancho. He didn´t have any money to pay for the ticket, and he confronted the ticket inspector.

Le garpé 5 mangos. I paid him five bucks.

La dejaron de garpe y se calentó. She was stood up and she got mad.

Happy translation day!

Translation Day

September 30th is the date on which translators across the globe celebrate International Translation Day, and it is also the feast day of St. Jerome. Considered the patron saint of translators, St. Jerome is known for translating the Bible into Latin. Launched officially in 1991 by the International Federation of Translators, International Translation Day an opportunity for translators everywhere to promote their profession, show solidarity with their colleagues worldwide, and display pride in a profession that is increasingly taking center stage in this era of globalization.

It’s also a day to reflect on the many changes in the work of translators and interpreters over the last several decades. From handwritten translations that were typed up on manual typewriters and sent via courier or ordinary mail, to electronic documents created using a word processor with input via electronic keyboard or voice recognition program and emailed in a matter of seconds, the changes in the profession are enough to make a veteran’s head swim…not to mention the virtual dictionaries and other references, online communities, and instant consultation of colleagues across the globe that have made the work of translating both faster and easier.

And that’s good news, because the demand for translation and interpretation is growing faster than ever. Translators and interpreters are key factors in growing businesses globally and are also becoming increasingly important in nonprofit and social aid projects, including providing urgently needed translation and interpretation services during the refugee crisis taking place in the Middle East and Europe.

The work of translators and interpreters often goes unacknowledged by the wider world, and today is a great opportunity to draw attention to the growing importance of this time-honored profession across borders and across industries.

And don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back; after all, YOU know just how hard you work!

Happy Translation Day!


Staying motivated as a Freelance Translator

There are pros and cons to working as a freelance translator, and one of them (both a pro and a con) is organizing the way we use our time.

Distractions in our working environment can include everything from the TV to the cookie jar, and our computer – the very tool we use for our work – all too often offers the most distractions of all: social media, together with our favorite pages, the latest news, sports…name your interest, and there’s probably a way to be distracted by it.

For those who are used to working in a corporate atmosphere, with set working hours, a company dress code and regular performance reviews, the freedom to determine your own working hours, wear pajamas and never have anyone analyze one’s performance may sound like a dream come true. The fact is, though, with these motivators absent, freelancers sometimes find themselves rudderless in a storm, with indulgences becoming habits, habits that are not only detrimental to their productivity (and, thus, their business), but that also become increasingly hard to break. Not only can this negatively impact productivity, it can have the same deleterious effect on quality…and that is the road to professional perdition. By putting off getting started on the translation project we have on our agenda, we are reducing the time we have to cope with and solve unexpected challenges (like the translation of a particularly obscure term or even a computer crash) affecting the project, and we also waste time that could be used for another project, or even marketing our services to win more and better clients. What’s more, the negative impact is not only professional; it’s personal, as well. If we don’t schedule our work time, we haven’t scheduled our leisure time either and just as this lack of definition can mean that we become less effective in our professional lives, it can mean the same in our personal lives.

freelance translator motivation

So, how can we motivate ourselves to get back on the track to professional productivity while ensuring time for personal pursuits?

Here are eight tips for upping your motivation and ensuring both productivity and personal time.

  1. Get up early. Yes, one can work in the afternoon or at night – millions do the world over. But you want to get started with your work, not put it off (remember, we’re talking about motivation here), so don’t listen to that voice in your head that tells you to roll over and catch another 30 winks. While you’re sleeping in, the world is moving forward. Use this time to enjoy an unrushed breakfast (so hunger won’t distract you) and plan your day (a packed agenda means less opportunity to lose focus). If you can manage to get up just a half-hour earlier every day of the year, you’ll gain a full week of time. Just imagine what you can do with that week (and the money you’ll earn)…so get up and get started, already!
  2. Get dressed. Yes, that means changing your pajamas for something you wouldn’t mind wearing to the supermarket (and we hope that’s not your pajamas!). Jeans, a sweatshirt or tee…something comfortable, but actual clothing. It’s pretty much accepted by psychologists that what we wear affects the way we act, so – while “professional work attire” may not be required – put on something that makes you feel like a professional who’s focused on work.
  3. Speaking of sleep…if wearing pajamas undermines your motivation to work, working in bed will KO it entirely. Even working in the same room you sleep in can affect motivation, so if you have the space, find another place to work. If you don’t, try to find some way to keep the bed out of sight while you’re seated at your desk, like orienting your desk in another direction, or placing a screen between the two.
  4. Make a work schedule and stick to it. This means that you set your office hours, and those are the hours that you work. Organize your work for the day – whether a translation project, glossary maintenance, invoicing or promoting your service – in an agenda or diary, get started (now!) and just do it. Again, don’t listen to that voice telling you to take a break…if you don’t get started, you won’t finish, will you?
  5. Reward yourself. All work and no play makes a translator sad and unmotivated professional, so find a reward that motivates you – and indulge yourself with it. Like to watch Game of Thrones? Write it in your agenda for 8 pm and then work towards the goal of finishing up your job-related work so you can sit back and enjoy it guilt- and pressure-free. Whatever a favorite activity might be, use it as a reward and schedule it for the end of your workday.
  6. Restrict social media, both professional and personal. Schedule a few minutes a day in your agenda for taking care of your professional social media accounts, if any, and then spend not one minute more. Relegate your personal accounts to your personal time, where they belong.
  7. Go for a walk. This is the one tip that actually takes you away from your desk. Besides reducing stress, studies show that a walk outside can boost both creativity and concentration…two important factors in getting the job done. So, get yourself a breath of fresh air, and then get right back to work.
  8. Finally, reach out. You are not alone! Suffering from a lack of motivation is something that many freelancers have experienced at one point or another in their careers. There are even apps that will help you conquer distractions, eliminate procrastination, increase productivity and reduce the chance of burn-out: Tomighty, YAPA and ActionAlly are just a few.

Do you have a tip or trick that fires up your motivation?

Share it with us!



What you need to know about certified translations

certified translation

Translators are often asked to translate official documents, including identity documents, immigration documents, birth or death certificates, wedding licenses, wills, diplomas, transcripts and so on.

They are two key issues to consider before beginning a certificate translation: Translating the information on the certificate itself correctly and what certification process (if any) is to be applied.

In terms of the translation itself, it is important for the translation to match the original to the greatest extent possible, not only in terms of content, but also in terms of form. This is especially important for certified translations, as the person doing the certification must check each item of the translation against the same item on the original document, including (but not limited to) the fax information on the bottom of the page, the initials written in the margins of all the pages, stamps, seals and handwritten notes. A client may request that the translator leave out certain information found on the original. Doing so will make it impossible for the certifier to certify the document which will render it invalid for legal or official use.

The “matching” issue doesn’t stop with ensuring that everything on the original also appears on the translation; it is equally important – no matter how persuasive the client may be – to never add anything to a certificate translation, regardless of how obvious an omission may seem.

So, no skipping anything, no adding anything…and no changing anything, either. You are the translator, and you must translate the words as you understand them, regardless of how insistent your client is that the word “técnico” on his diploma really means “engineer”.

The certification process itself – which grants the legal status of the original to the copy – it varies from country to country. In the U.S., a certified translation is simply a translation accompanied by the source text and a straightforward signed statement (Certificate of Accuracy) in which the translator attests to her ability to translate the material and the accuracy of the document. For extra legal protection, clients will sometimes ask the translator to have a notary public sign and seal the document in witness of the translator’s signature in his presence.

Some countries outside the U.S. have stringent requirements about who may certify a translation; check the laws of the destination country to determine what is required in order for the translation to be accepted as certified.