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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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