6 Amazing Examples of  Language and Technology in Museums

Whether as a result of increased immigration, increased international travel, or both, museums serve an increasingly multilingual audience. To create exhibits that excite and inform visitors in a variety of languages, some institutions are taking advantage of technologies like QR codes, apps, geolocation, specialised websites and augmented reality.

Read on for six amazing examples of language and technology in museums.

Amsterdam Museum’s QR Codes for Multilingual Visitors

Remember when QR codes were supposed to be the next big thing? The Amsterdam Museum has come up with a clever, useful way to use QR codes to assist multilingual visitors.

As curator Laura van Hasselt explained to Museeum.com,  the museum recorded short films and voiceovers in 10 different languages to make the museum more accessible to international visitors. But then, they had to figure out how to make that information available:

“But how do you put 10 voice-overs to one film? We needed some technique with which everyone could easily find his or her own language. That’s how we start the exhibition – with a leaflet in which you can find the basic information on the exhibition, but there is also a QR code on the front. We made it in 10 languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Italian”.

“With this QR code you can scan your leaflet, the film will start in your language. This is the technique we’re using to reach out to the international audience, which we so far find very successful. It’s more welcoming and you make it easier for people to look and explore. That’s what you really want people to do in the museum – to look.”

Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach

In 2015, the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach released a multilingual museum tour app with an associated microsite.  

The app, available for both iPhone and Android, offers support in English, French, German, Haitian, Hebrew, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.  Meanwhile, the microsite makes the information available to online visitors in the same languages, with subtitles available for translated videos.

One common obstacle that museums encounter with mobile tour guide apps is that visitors don’t want to wait for the app to download. According to Voices of the Past, the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach addresses this issue by offering help and encouragement for individual visitors as well as school groups. The payoff? An improved visitor experience. According to Voices of the Past,  “they report that the app greatly enhances their experiences afterwards.”

Meanwhile, the microsite is often used for research and drives traffic to the website from around the world.

Natural History Museum of London

The Natural History Museum of London is using a multilingual app to guide visitors around the museum.  Geolocation features help visitors find exhibits, learn more about the exhibitions, and direct them to other nearby points of interest.

As Celena Bretton, the museum’s Digital Media Strategy Manager explained on the Adobe blog:

The Museum is quite big; even regulars may stumble upon galleries that they didn’t know existed. Using signal information from our wifi network, we can pinpoint where visitors are standing in galleries, what they’re looking at, and where they’re going. Based on this information, we can deliver contextual information about the display that they’re looking at or highlight the location of other interesting exhibits..

About 58% of our visitors are international, so we wanted to include multiple language options to help us reach more visitors in their native languages. Adobe Experience Manager Mobile makes it much easier to manage a multilingual environment so that we can keep our international visitors up-to-date with the latest information.

Read more

languages of the European Union

The Languages of the European Union

9  May is Europe Day, a day to commemorate the birth of the European Union and celebrate peace and unity in Europe. To celebrate, here are seven facts about the languages of the EU that organisations need to know to do business there.

The European Union has 24 official or working languages.

The European Union has 24 official languages. They are:

  • Bulgarian
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Estonian
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hungarian
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Maltese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Slovak
  • Slovene
  • Spanish
  • Swedish


This list includes all of the official languages of the EU member states, except for Luxembourgish (official in Luxembourg) and Turkish (official in Turkey).

EU regulations are translated into these languages, as is the Official Journal of the European Union and any documents of importance to the general public. Additionally, citizens of EU member states can write to the EU in any of these languages and receive a reply in the same language.

The only exception is Irish- due to a shortage of Irish translators, only certain documents are translated into Irish. However, the EU expects to be using Irish as a working language by 2022.

For everyday use, EU organisations and institutions rely on three procedural languages.

The EU conducts its day to day business in just three languages: English, French, and German.

That said, while English is used as a common tongue, the English you’ll hear in the halls of the EU isn’t quite the Queen’s English.

Instead, a dialect called “Euro-English” has evolved, influenced by the various native languages of EU bureaucrats. To learn more, see 10 Funny Euro-English Words.

The EU has three official scripts.

They are Latin, Greek and Cyrillic.

In addition to the officially recognised languages, there are more than 60 regional and minority languages.

Some of these are widely spoken and officially supported at the local level; others are endangered.

English is the most widely spoken language in the European Union.

Approximately 13% of EU citizens speak English as a native language, although this will naturally change with Brexit. An additional 38% of EU citizens can speak it as a second language. As a result,  51% of adults in the EU can understand English.

However, English is only an official language in Ireland, Malta and the UK.  Because it has become so entrenched as a second language, it is likely to remain an EU working language even after the UK withdraws.

German is the most widely spoken EU native language.

18% of EU adults speak German as native language. The German language has official status not only in Germany, but also in Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, Belgium, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg.

The EU spends 1% of its budget on language and translation services.

In 2005, the amount spent came to  €1,123 million, or €2.28 per person per year.

Want to do business in the EU? English is not enough.

As of right now, the EU is made up of 28 member states, acting as a single market. Together, EU member states generated almost a quarter of the world’s GDP!

Want to reach as much of this market as possible? English alone isn’t enough. Yes, English is the language that’s most widely spoken in the EU- but that’s only if you include second language speakers. Even fluent second-language speakers generally prefer to shop in their native language.  As Nataly Kelly wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “Can you get by with English in Europe? You can if you’re carrying a camera, but not if you’re carrying a briefcase.”

For example, according to a 2011 study from the European Commission:

  • Although 55% of EU internet users will read web content that’s not in their native language, nine out of 10 European internet users prefer to visit websites written in their own native language.
  •  At the same time, 19% of Europeans browse the internet exclusively in their native language. If your website is English only, you’re not even on their radar.
  • Just less than half (42%) of Europeans only purchase products and services if sales material is available in their native language.

Customer preferences aside, some information is legally required to be translated into local languages.

As a result, a sound language strategy will take into account the relevant regulations and language preferences for the EU countries where you plan to market your product.

What languages are most important for businesses operating in EU countries?

The five most common languages in the EU are:

  • English (51% of EU citizens speak it, including those who speak it as a second language).
  • German (32% of EU citizens speak it, including second language speakers).
  • French (26% speak it).
  • Italian (16% speak it).
  • Spanish (15% speak it).

However, there’s more to a successful export strategy than just translation.  See our export guides for more details about doing business in EU member states like Germany, Italy and France.

Language Services for the EU Market

If you need language services for the European market, we’re here to help. Our team of qualified, native-speaking linguists, local language copywriters and other experts will make sure that all of your product packaging, labelling, documentation and marketing material is translated correctly every time.

For more information, take a look at the services we offer and contact us about your next project today!

7 Types of Interpreting Services (and When to Use Them)

Are you looking for an interpreter?  Different types of interpreting services are available to suit various business needs. If you’re not sure what type you’ll need, we’ve got you covered. Here are seven types of interpreting services and a rundown of when to use each type:

Types of Interpreting Services: Simultaneous Interpreting

In simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter interprets speech as it’s spoken.  Despite the name, simultaneous interpreting isn’t actually simultaneous. The interpreter still has to hear what the speaker says to be able to interpret it, so they’re always a sentence or two behind.

That said, simultaneous interpreting is still an impressive feat. To keep up with the speaker, the interpreter has to think on their feet, mentally translating quickly and accurately without even a moment to stop and think.

Simultaneous interpreting generally requires specialised equipment, like headsets, to help the audience follow along in their own language.

When to use it:

Simultaneous interpreting saves time and creates a more natural experience for listeners. This type of interpreting is best suited for large events, like conferences, trade shows, and large meetings with many speakers. In fact, another name for simultaneous interpreting is “conference interpreting.” It’s also the method of choice for the United Nations.

Types of Interpreting Services: Consecutive Interpreting or Face-to-Face Interpreting

In consecutive interpreting, also known as face-to-face, liason, or ad-hoc interpreting,  the speaker stops speaking every few minutes to give the interpreter a chance to interpret what’s been said.

When to use it: 

Simultaneous interpreting saves time, but it’s a bit like walking and chewing gum at the same time. Consecutive interpreting is easier on the interpreter since they aren’t trying to listen and interpret at the same time. However, since the speakers have to stop and wait for the interpreter, it also takes longer. As a result, consecutive interpreting is suitable for smaller business events, including

  • Meetings and training workshops (depending on size)
  • Negotiations
  • Seminars
  • HR meetings

This is also the type of interpreting you’re most likely to see in courtrooms.

Consecutive interpreting is also used in more informal settings, such as interviews and doctor’s visits. Read more

Six Tips To Give Your Bilingual Exhibits Multicultural Appeal

How can museums make their exhibits more accessible to visitors and to the surrounding community? Often, language is the key.

Around 55% of museums and science centres around the world already offer information for visitors in more than one language. Bilingual or multilingual exhibitions help museums better serve their home communities and attract international visitors, as well. Urban centres are becoming more linguistically and culturally diverse, and the number of international travellers is also on the rise. As a result, the need for multilingual exhibits will continue to grow.

However, designing a successful bilingual exhibit is more complicated than creating an exhibition in one language only. Use these six expert tips to give your next bilingual exhibition multicultural appeal.

Build a glossary to keep the terminology consistent.

For the sake of continuity, it’s essential to use the same terms throughout the exhibit, in both languages. A bilingual glossary of terms keeps your translators on the same page, and the vocabulary consistent.

According to the Canadian Museum of History, it’s often more efficient to create this glossary while you write the original draft of the text.

Aim for a recreation of the original text, rather than a direct translation.

It’s more important that the translated text convey the same meaning in the same tone than it is for it to be a word-for-word translation. Since languages can vary in structure and custom, rewriting is often necessary. The Canadian Museum of History explains:

“For example, in our English-language texts, we rarely start sentences with subordinate clauses because it is too indirect an approach in an exhibition context. In French, however, subordinate clauses are considered more elegant. They are more readily accepted, as without them, text can feel brusque.”

One possible exception to this general rule: translating the title an artist has given to their work. Here, you have a choice to make: translate the artist’s words as directly as possible, or use an interpretation that might better convey the meaning. Read more

E-Learning Localisation: How to Successfully Localise Your E-Learning Content

Global businesses of all sizes are taking advantage of the power of e-Learning to educate employees, partners and customers around the world.

ELearning saves businesses time and money, and it’s more convenient for trainees as well. However, when your trainees speak different languages and come from different cultures, localised content is essential.

Even if your trainees speak English as a second language, research shows that people learn better in their native language. Presenting information in a culturally relevant fashion also increases understanding.

With that in mind, here are some expert tips for successful e-Learning localisation.

The path to successful e-Learning localisation begins before a single word is translated.

Some types of content are easier to translate than others. By making your original eLearning content localisation-friendly, you save time and money when it’s time to translate it for employees with different languages and cultural backgrounds.

Here are three ways to create content that’s easier to translate:

  • Use simple, easy-to-read formats like bulleted lists.
  • Use clear, direct language- avoid slang, humour and figurative language where possible.
  • Minimise culturally specific references in text, audio and video.

Of course, these recommendations are not going to be suitable for ALL eLearning material. Your training may be more successful with a dose of humour to lighten up dry subject matter, for instance. Or, your compliance training may need to take cultural nuances into account to be effective.

That said, here are two tactics for creating content that’s easy to localise that work with almost all eLearning materials:

  • Allow extra space in your design for text to expand after it’s translated.
  • Avoid embedded text whenever possible. It won’t make your project impossible to translate, but it will make it more difficult, and therefore more costly.

Read more

8 Important Truths About Copywriting for International Audiences

Copywriting for international audiences is more complicated than you might think at first. Advertising and marketing copy depends on culturally and linguistically-specific factors to motivate the audience to act. For example, clever wordplay is challenging to translate, as is humour.

These factors can make it more difficult for international businesses to sell to customers on a global scale.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are eight truths about copywriting for international audiences to increase your odds of success.

Copy is more appealing when it’s in your customers’ native language.

So, make sure your company’s content is available in that language. Yes, that sounds basic. However, since so many people around the world speak at least some English, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s okay to cut corners and write in English for your international audience.

However, research shows that people are more likely to buy products when product information is available in their native language, even if they speak English as well.

There’s no such thing as an “international audience.”

Instead, there are international audiences, plural. Each target market is its own audience requiring a custom approach.

Always be researching.

Research is the foundation of almost all successful marketing and advertising campaigns. However, you can’t assume that the research you did before you came up with your original campaign will carry over to new markets. Here are some sample questions to answer before you even begin:

  • Will your product appeal to the same age groups and personas?
  • Are the demographics the same?
  • Will customers in your new target market consume the same types of media?

Also, it’s essential to understand how your target customers talk. That means you need to know not just what language they speak, but what dialect? Do they speak formally or informally? What about slang? Read more

Hand Signals Around the World

Do you talk with your hands? Many people do. In fact, some researchers claim that up to 70% of human communication is accomplished through body language. Hand signals are a common type of nonverbal communication. But be careful when you’re travelling or addressing someone from another culture. Hand signals aren’t universal, and you might be saying something unintended or even offensive with yours.

For example, here are six common hand signals with different meanings around the world along with their different meanings.

 The “V for Victory” Sign

You’re more than likely familiar with the “V for Victory” sign, or the peace sign for those of you still stuck in the 60s.

This sign has a number of different possible meanings, depending on where you are and the direction your palm is facing. When your palm faces out, towards the person you’re addressing, this sign usually means “victory,” “peace” or the number two.

However, turn your palm in so that the back of your hand faces out to the observer, and you’re insulting people in the UK and several other countries, including:

  • Australia, where the gesture is called “the forks.”
  • Ireland,
  • New Zealand, and
  • South Africa.

In the United States, this version is much more innocuous. It’s how you sign the number 2 and the letter V in American Sign Language. As a result, it’s not uncommon for Americans to get mixed up. For example, in 1992, US President George H. W. Bush (in)famously “gave the forks” to a group of protesting Australian farmers. Apparently, he intended to flash the peace sign at them.

But wait, there’s more:

In Japan, China and Korea, people commonly flash the V-sign when they pose for happy photos, often instead of smiling.

In Vietnam, it means “Hello.”

Thumbs down for thumbs-up?

In some countries, the thumbs-up gesture is a sign of approval. However, in Australia, you’re inviting onlookers to “sit on it.”  They are unlikely to respond kindly to that invitation.

It’s also an insult in Bangladesh and in parts of the Middle East. Read more

5 Inspiring Transcreation Examples

How do brands large and small create advertising and marketing campaigns that work just as well in Japan as they do in the UK? When the audiences you’re addressing vary so widely, “one size fits all” marketing just won’t do. Transcreation is the process of recreating and adapting advertising and marketing messages to appeal to audiences around the world, taking into account linguistic and cultural differences.

Rather than duplicating the original content in another language, transcreation focuses on recreating the same emotional appeals and impact. In the process, content and imagery may be completely redone, from the ground up.

For more, see “What is Transcreation?” 

Curious about how it all works in the wild? Here are five transcreation examples to study and learn from:

How Red Bull stands out in Chinese shops

The success of Red Bull energy drinks is a testament to the power of marketing and advertising.  Think about it- it tastes like watered-down cough syrup. It has less caffeine than plain coffee. Why do people buy it?

Well, Red Bull’s advertising isn’t selling foul-tasting, caffeinated sugar water. It’s selling an image. Want to be the type of person that does extraordinary things? Want to be larger than life?  Buy a Red Bull- it gives you wings!

When it came time to expand into China, Red Bull made several adjustments to both the product and its packaging to ensure that the appeal of its original marketing didn’t get lost in translation.

For example, in China, Red Bull is not carbonated. And they offer a version of the beverage in red, gold and black can,  a colour scheme that signals, luck, wealth and good fortune to Chinese consumers. Read more

Shopify's Localisation Strategies

Shopify’s Localisation Strategies: How Translation and Localisation Fuel Growth

Shopify, a Canadian e-commerce company that helps small businesses and startups sell products online, was founded in 2004. The startup made waves almost instantly and grew 10x in three years. Now that it’s 2019, how have they kept up the momentum? Two words: international expansion. Let’s take a closer look at how Shopify’s localisation strategies are fuelling continued growth for the business.

Shopify’s localisation strategies: Rolling out the welcome mat for international merchants.

A significant amount of Shopify’s recent growth is due to international expansion, as is much of their projected future growth. For example, in their fourth-quarter and full year 2018 financial results, the company notes:

“Shopify’s investments in international expansion yielded a record percentage of new merchants on the Shopify platform in the fourth quarter from outside our core geographies.”

As Investor Place notes, expanding into these new markets is essential to the company’s continued survival, and localised content is key to making that happen:

Shopify recognizes the importance of international markets for expansion. With 70% of the largest e-commerce markets being non-English speaking, Shopify must localize its platform in each region it enters.

To that end, Shopify has been rolling out the welcome mat for merchants around the world. For example, in May of 2018, the company released a Beta version of Shopify in six languages: French, German, Japanese, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish.

They’ve also expanded their Shopify Payments product to 11 countries: the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Germany, and Spain. In Germany, Shopify customised the Payments system to accept local bank transfers. Read more

multilingual SEO in 2019

How to Win at Multilingual SEO in 2019

What if you threw a party and nobody came? That’s what it’s like to launch a new website when your customers can’t find you. And just because the Google gods have showered your English-language site with lots of organic traffic, that doesn’t mean that the foreign language versions will be equally blessed. Without a sound multilingual SEO strategy, translating your website is a waste of time.

Like SEO in general, multilingual SEO is a fast-moving discipline. Tactics that worked last year may not work this year. These 5 tips will show you how to win at multilingual SEO in 2019.

Multilingual SEO in 2019: Begin with in-depth keyword and market research

No matter what the language, in-depth keyword and market research is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. You have to know what words people are actually using when they search in order to successfully target them.

That sounds straightforward enough, but here’s the bad news: you can’t just translate and reuse the keyword research you did when you set up your original site.  Each country is different, even if the people there technically speak the same language.

Consider the UK, the US and Australia.  All three countries speak English – but they won’t all search for the same products in the same way.

For example, an apartment in America is a flat in the UK and a unit in Australia.

Cater to all the relevant search engines

Google may have cornered the market on search in most of the world, but there are some exceptions. Research the different search engines available in the country you’re targeting, and find out how much market share each has.  For example, Yandex is slightly ahead of Google in Russia, and China is all about Baidu.

Since different search engines have different algorithms, it pays to get advice from someone who is familiar with ALL of the relevant search engines.

Cater to the user experience in each market you target.

For Google (as well as for most of the other SERPS), user experience is king.  For example,Erika Varangouli, International Digital Marketing Manager, told SearchLaboratory.com: 

“Almost every single Google algorithm update over the last five years has indicated that creating a solid user experience is at the top of Google’s agenda. Brands wanting to rank well (and stay there) will need to align their SEO and UX strategies together, ensuring that everything from landing pages to creative campaigns are designed to offer a five-star experience to users. ­”

To ensure a great user experience, your local language websites must be truly customised for each market. Everything from the visuals to the layout to currency and date displays must be localised. For example, you might recall that Hebrew and Arabic are read from right to left. Meanwhile, Japanese script is vertical. If you’re targeting these languages, you absolutely have to adjust your layout and design accordingly.

Quality content keeps searchers on the page.

Do users take one look at your website and hit the “Back” button? If so, your rankings will suffer. Keep them on the page with quality content. Poor-quality, error-ridden translations don’t promote the sort of user behaviour that Google expects. Quality translation (as well as transcreation when necessary) creates a quality user experience, and Google will take notice.

In fact, according to SearchEngineJournal.com,

Google algorithm updates in 2018 revealed that Google is intensifying its focus on evaluating content quality and at the depth and breadth of a website’s content, said Eric Enge, general manager of Perficient Digital.“We tracked the SEO performance of a number of different sites,” Enge said. “The sites that provided exceptional depth in quality content coverage literally soared in rankings throughout the year. Sites that were weaker in their content depth suffered in comparison.”

Multilingual SEO in 2019: Ignore voice search and mobile search at your peril.

Probably the most critical change that SEO industry experts expect in 2019 is that voice search will finally come into its own. That means you need to begin optimising your websites for it now, in all languages.  Research to understand and target any voice-specific search terms, and optimise for featured snippets, too. As Erika Varangouli advised on SearchLaboratory.com:

For the markets where Google is the dominant player, the number of search results returning featured snippets will also increase, as Google seeks to give users the best experience. Brands can take advantage of this trend by optimising their content for voice search but will need to start now as the landscape is about to get more competitive throughout 2019.

Meanwhile, it’s 2019, so if you don’t have a mobile SEO strategy, you need to get up to speed (especially if you target emerging markets where most internet users are mobile). For example, Jamie Alberico, SEO product owner at Arrow Electronics, told DeepCrawl.com:

“If you want to be international, you’d better be mobile first and mobile fast. In the United States, 41% of total web traffic comes from mobile devices. For Asian markets, that share jumps to over 65%. 4G isn’t worldwide and for many international users, there’s a real monetary value attached to every MB. Can you imagine having to pay $5 every time a site decided you really needed to see their hero image? These users need lightweight experiences that adapt.”

Don’t let your multilingual SEO strategy lose on a technicality.

As important as content optimisation is, it can’t replace careful attention to the more technical aspects of SEO. For example, consider how best to signal to Google that you have multilingual versions of the same site. According to Google, it’s best to use different URLs for different language versions instead of relying on geolocation. Also, make sure everything is marked appropriately and use hreflang  tags correctly. Use structured data markup whenever you can, too, since it’s more AI-friendly and Google is expected to begin relying on AI more and more.

With a task as complex as SEO, it’s always best to get professional advice. At K International, our team is available to answer all of your questions and to get your website optimised for all of the languages you do business in. Contact us for your next website translation project – we can’t wait to hear from you!