Say yes to Wake Forest in 12 languages

No other university in the nation has translated its admissions materials for international students into this many languages and with this much information, according to Olgierda Furmanek, associate professor in the Department of Romance Languages and the head of the Translation and Interpreting Program, who led the campus-wide translation project.

Prospective students will learn about Wake Forest and how to apply in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Because international students need some proficiency in English in order to attend and succeed at universities in the U.S., the audience for the translated site is intended more for parents than for students. International students and their parents accessing the website will see information in their native language on how to apply to the university, obtain financial aid and learn about student life. The online application, however, is still in English.

“It can be a scary proposition when your child decides to study in another country, especially if the parent doesn’t know anything about the institution and its locale,” said Furmanek. “By reading about the university in their native language, on a comprehensive, interactive website, parents will have a better understanding of where their child is going, and I think, better peace of mind.”

Translating the materials into 12 languages was not an easy undertaking. It took a team of 38 faculty members, students and administrators the entire spring semester to finish the project. Students taking the course “Localization and Terminology,” which is part of the Translation and Interpreting Studies program, did most of the translating under the direction of their instructor Chris Mellinger. It was an elaborate, five-step applied research project that combined cultural and linguistic knowledge with current language industry regulations. Admissions counselor Elizabeth Voelker, who works with international students, took the lead from the admissions office to ensure that the translations were accurate regarding admission standards.

The project included university departments from admissions to linguistics to information systems and several native speakers among the Wake Forest faculty who helped proof the materials, including Dr. Irma Alarcon (Spanish), Dr. Vera Castro (Portuguese), Heeyoon Choi (Korean), Dr. Martin Guthold (German), Bakhit Kourman (Russian), Darlene Mae (Arabic), Jade Mathieu (French), Yasuko Takata-Rallings (Japanese), Dr. Yaohua Shi (Chinese), Giosue Scaccianoce (Italian).

“By providing information about Wake Forest to international students and their parents in their native languages, Wake Forest is sending a clear message that this is a place where globalism is taken seriously and students from all over the world are welcome,” said Martha Allman, director of admissions at Wake Forest.  “We are extremely appreciative of Professor Furmanek and those who assisted in the translation.”

The original idea was simply to translate the admissions information from English to Spanish. Furmanek credits Wake Forest Provost Jill Tiefenthaler with the ambitious idea of including more languages.

“Yale University had translated its materials into nine languages but they are only available in a PDF format. We did the same but better, using our localization expertise to expand the information to more languages and include more information,” said Furmanek.

Wake Forest has 80 undergraduate students from 19 countries attending this fall.

Categories: Admissions, For Parents, International, Student, Top Stories, Wake Forest College