Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), a learning technology company committed to delivering connected solutions that engage learners, empower educators, and improve student outcomes.

We truly appreciate how relentlessly committed you are to the quality of our products. You all are doing a fantastic—nearly miraculous—job. We appreciate it so much!

Project Summary

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
  • Service Name: E-learning localization
  • Language Pair: English to Spanish
  • Industry: Digital E-Learning
  • Volume: 2 million words approx
  • Link: https://www.hmhco.com

About the company, what were their requirements and why?

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) is a learning technology company committed to delivering connected solutions that engage learners, empower educators, and improve student outcomes. As a leading provider of K–12 core curriculum, supplemental/ intervention solutions, and professional learning services; HMH partners with educators and school districts to uncover solutions that unlock students’ potential and extend teachers’ capabilities.

HMH serves more than 50 million students and 4 million educators in 150 countries. Around 90% of US K–12 schools use HMH core, intervention, and supplemental programs. The "Into Math" program which was to be localized into Spanish was created by researchers who have influenced the fields of mathematics, mindset and motivation, professional development, and more.

The client had an urgent need to translate the "Into Math" program of their grade K-8 & Algebra subjects into Spanish. They had extremely aggressive timelines for their online launch & were looking for a translation partner that uses industry-standard technology, such as CAT tools, Translation memory/terminology management, Workflow automation, and Quality Assurance systems to provide top-notch translated US‒Spanish output.

Challenges we faced during the project

The biggest challenge was to deliver high-quality publish ready Spanish books of around 2 million words in less than 3 months

The scope for translation within the given timeline was next to impossible. Math books of 10 grades with an average page count of 1,100 pages/book meant that we had to churn out approximately 22,000 words of publish-ready output daily. Usually, completing a project of this massive scale would require a minimum of 6 months. We had to complete it in less than half the time.

Strong knowledge of typesetting and printing techniques was needed on this highly complex InDesign project that involved linking multiple images and graphics for each page

Each page had redux's (existing Student Edition Spanish pages) that had to be carefully pulled and linked from the clients' massive repository. This, besides the intricate linking of various Spanish art files, project cards, game and activity cards, quizzes and assessments, and overall formatting given the differences in size between the source language English and the target language Spanish. Identifying and sourcing each of these respective elements was no mean task and a DTP (formatting) team had to be set up for round-the-clock production.

Translation, editing, revisions & formatting of 10 grades...All services had to be completed simultaneously and the translation output had to be consistent. Managing consistency across 2 million words was a mammoth task.

Around 35‒40 subject matter expert translators were working simultaneously on various grades and the challenge was to keep the translation across multiple grades consistent and in sync with the translation style, terminologies, and client's preferences.

A strong project management team was needed to deliver around 100 interim batches. This required keeping a seamless flow of communication among a massive workforce of around 10 translation teams along with multiple formatting, review, & support teams.

Right from shortlisting the translation team to managing close to 35‒40 translation experts, multiple DTP (formatting) teams, doing around 100 interim deliveries, and multiple rounds of internal checks required a highly efficient and experienced project management team.

Solution provided by us to the client

Math experts with vast teaching experience were used to achieve the unthinkable. Most linguists also had former experience in the course/curriculum development process.

With deadlines so aggressive, the team knew there was no room for errors. To add to the complexity, there were multiple reference materials provided by the client which the linguists had to refer to and match the style and terminology for, wherever applicable. Our team of subject matter experts not only understood the client's translation preferences but were also able to suggest better terminologies which were then applied consistently across grades. Further, we set up a communication channel wherein there was a constant flow of communication between all stakeholders, and queries were being answered in real-time resulting in an efficient process.

Smart technologies like 'GlossaryX360', Translation management system were used to manage the consistency and overall quality of the project

Technology is at the core of Ulatus and it was imperative to use the right mix of tools to meet the client's aggressive timelines & stringent quality expectations. All the files across different grades were uploaded onto our Translation Management System (TMS) which in turn was linked to a master Translation Memory (TM). This allowed each linguist to leverage from each other’s work which in turn expedited the translation process and also kept the style and tone consistent. Our TMS is equipped with a state of the art Quality Assurance (QA) module which catches over 20 types of different errors. We ran another round of QA using our proprietary terminology tool - 'GlossaryX360' to ensure the terminologies are consistently being applied across all the files.

Comprehensive QA process consisting of state of the art QA tools along with industry specialized experts used to tame the inconsistency beast

Our strategy of using a mix of tools was helping keep things consistent, however, with so many linguists working simultaneously, Ulatus did not leave anything to chance. We created a boilerplate file comprising translations for all repeating section headings which was used by our bilingual QA team to check for consistency issues, besides checking for other style-related errors. The scope of each QA round was well-defined and around 100 interim batches were delivered during the project lifecycle. Ulatus tamed the inconsistency beast through a meticulously planned QA process.

In around 100 interim deliveries, 35‒40 translation experts used, separate weekly catch-ups with clients & linguists to achieve the desired objective

Even the best plans don’t work if they are not executed well. To meet quality & timeline expectations, an extensive project management plan was put in place wherein each file went through a minimum of 10 rounds of processing consisting of translation, proofreading, formatting & various rounds of internal & external QA checks. This required a massive collaborative effort wherein the best minds from multiple teams - project management, quality assurance & DTP came together intending to create a WOW experience for the client

Project Overview

  • High quality publish-ready Spanish books of 10 grades and around 2 million words were delivered in less than 3 months.
  • 35‒40 subject matter expert translators worked simultaneously on various grades and yet translation was consistent and in sync with the translation style, terminologies, and client's preferences.
  • State of the Art Quality Assurance (QA) module with usage of our proprietary terminology tool - "GlossaryX360" was used apart from around 10 rounds of internal checks to eradicate any possibility of inconsistent translation.

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