MIT Sloan School of Management – Global Executive Academy Case Study
The sharing of knowledge between business leaders throughout the United States and around the world is imperative for innovation. Many top universities have developed executive education programs that bring these individuals together to discuss new ideas and business strategies that they can apply to their personal work. As many of these programs have a global reach, language services are often needed to ensure students can actively participate. Language Connections has provided multifaceted linguistic assistance in this manner to MIT’s Global Executive Academy since 2013.
Q: How Do You Ensure Executives Speaking 5 Languages Can Learn And Discuss Business Strategy?
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, located in Cambridge MA, is one of the top business schools in the world. For global business leaders looking to expand their knowledge of business strategies and techniques, they offer the Global Executive Academy (GEA).
This innovative program is designed for executives and senior managers who want to enhance their general management skills. It is unique in that it’s offered simultaneously in multiple languages to participants from Asia, Europe, Russia and the Middle East.
For one of their earlier programs, MIT reached out to Language Connections requesting interpretation and translation services for students speaking five different languages.
MIT requested language support for Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. The set of text and multimedia materials used throughout the program included:
- Program marketing brochures
- Website pages (including important information regarding program details, admission requirements, costs, immigration and visa-related details, a program calendar, course details, and testimonials from previous participants)
- Ads for online marketing campaigns
- Presentations and slide shows (that would be displayed simultaneously on five monitors in the respective languages)
Simultaneous interpreting services in all five languages was also required during classroom lectures, presentations, and discussions.
Language support for large, multilingual programs like this involve many moving parts that need precise coordination to ensure no mistakes are made.
As such, our team was faced with a few challenges:
- Most materials used throughout the course require short turnaround times for their translations.
- All educational materials needed to be consistent across the five languages, as students would rely on them to have constructive discussions during the course.
- Website pages, marketing materials, videos, and presentations needed to be translated, dubbed, and formatted so visual and audio information was received clearly.
- High-level, conference interpreters were required and needed to be coordinated simultaneously by our project managers.
Challenge 1: Meeting Tight Deadlines
For global executive education programs, large volumes of materials including pre-reads, lesson plans and in class worksheets need to be prepared beforehand. Due to the scope of this work, this means that at times finalized English materials are coming in for translation with very short deadlines.
As such, precise coordination is required to ensure that there are linguists able to start translating materials as soon as they arrive to our project managers. It is essential that all the materials are completed before the start of the course, and that costs remain within the agreed upon budget.
Challenge 2: Ensuring Consistency Across 5 Different Languages
The most important thing for students to take away from the GEA course is a better understanding of the global business market, and how they can apply the knowledge discussed to their own businesses.
To ensure this, all course materials are translated in a clear and consistent manner across the languages offered so students do not fall behind during lessons.
Challenge 3: Adapting Marketing Materials
Part of the GEA program involves generating awareness and interest for the next year’s course well in advance. This means all marketing and informational materials (in print and online) need to be translated and adapted to appeal to target student audiences globally.
For this particular program, that included brochures, website pages, and online advertising campaigns.
Challenge 4: Coordinating 5 High-Level Conference Interpreters Simultaneously
As the students attending MIT’s GEA program would all be in class together, five separate teams of interpreters were needed to ensure that participants and lecturers understood and could engage in fruitful discussions – despite six different languages at work in the room.
In a classroom setting requiring multilingual collaboration such as this, providing interpretation is especially challenging and calls for a special technique known as relay interpreting.
On top of that, the interpreters are expected to be familiar with the topics of discussion to best present lectures to the students. As such, our team needed to coordinate experienced, subject matter experts for the duration of the program.
Language Connections was able to address the challenges presented by the MIT project by forming a scalable, efficient, and comprehensive solution that ensured all work was completed on time without sacrificing quality.
In order to handle the large volume of translations in a short deadline, our team of project managers created a customized workflow process to ensure timely and cost effective project completion.
We began by selecting multiple, qualified translators for each language pair to build up our teams. We ensured that their scheduling allowed for a relatively constant flow of translation as documents and materials arrived to maximize output in the short time-frame we had to complete the work.
This process was overseen by our experienced project managers, who were able to seamlessly coordinate editing and proofreading of classroom materials and presentations to ensure no quality was lost.
When it came time for formatting, Language Connections’ Desktop Publishing (DTP) team used the latest professional software and devoted many hours to ensuring lecture materials (including visual information such as charts, graphs, tables, and images) were rendered accurately across all translations.
In addition, our Media Services department coordinated subtitling and voice-overs for videos accompanying PowerPoint presentations and worksheets used throughout the different lectures.
With a focus on accuracy, our linguists successfully translated the large volume of documents and multimedia lecture materials used by the program participants.
In order to streamline the process of translating and uploading multilingual content to the program’s website, Language Connections was given access to MIT’s content management system (CMS).
This enabled us to make approved changes directly to the web pages, eliminating the time it would have taken to send materials back and forth with the client. Although convenient, working with the CMS was an additional challenge for our translators who were unfamiliar with the platform.
However, thanks to our project managers who were familiar with the functioning of the CMS, we were able to train them in the proper way to edit and update content for the website according to best standards, and while staying true to MIT’s brand.
Programs of this caliber require interpreters with proven expertise, and the team that Language Connections selected was composed of top-level professionals.
The interpreters needed to be present in the classroom with the students in order to follow along with discussions and questions. To avoid distracting lecturers and students with the sound of all the interpreters speaking at the same time, state of the art interpretation equipment was required.
Five sound-isolated booths were set up for the Arabic, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish interpreters, and their voices were transmitted through radio receivers and headsets to the participants.
During group discussions where individuals were speaking to each other without a common language, interpreters facilitated through the complex process of relay interpreting.
What Is Relay Interpreting?
Relay interpreting is a form of simultaneous interpretation, used primarily when there are people who do not speak the same language engaging in direct discussion with one another through the use of designated interpreters. It is particularly useful for the interpreters, as it is not realistic to expect that they will speak or understand languages outside of their designated pair.
To perform relay interpreting when an individual is speaking in a language not all participants or interpreters comprehend, his or her designated interpreter will render their speech into a common tongue understood by the other interpreters. These interpreters will then render this message into their participant’s native languages.
To look at an example from the MIT GEA program, when a Portuguese student would engage in discussion the Portuguese interpreter would render his or her words into English. This allowed the lecturer (who only spoke English) to understand what the student was saying, as well as the interpreters for Arabic, Chinese Russian, and Spanish who understood English but not Portuguese.
The interpreters for the rest of the students would in turn relay the English message to their listeners in their respective languages. This process was repeated each time one of the students spoke.
Learn More About Simultaneous Interpretation
A: You Trust Language Connections 25 Years Of Experience Interpreting For Academia!
With the expertise of our linguistic professionals and in-house project managers, Language Connections was able to contribute to the success of the Global Executive Academy program.
Our translators as well as our team of interpreters were well-versed in the field and business terminology. As a result, all international participants were able to have the same outstanding educational experience regardless of what language they spoke.
Language Connections maintains an ongoing relationship with MIT Sloan School of Management to this day, regularly providing them with necessary language support.
This past fall Language Connections worked with MIT GEA for the fourth year in a row, providing language services for the 2016 Global Executive Academy program.
Such a high level of personal dedication … really helped make our event successful to the very end.
– Executive Assistant, MIT
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About Language Connections:
Language Connections is one of the top language service companies in the US. Over the last 30 years, we’ve focused on providing the best business translation services, interpreting services, as well as interpreter training and customized language training programs. In addition to top-tier corporate language training, we offer certified corporate interpreters and professional business translation services in 200+ languages. Our network includes linguists with backgrounds in all major industries. They’re ready to meet your needs, whether they’re for technical translation services, legal translation, government translation services, international development translation services, education translation services, life sciences translation, or something else. Reach out to us today for a free quote on our cost-efficient and timely translation services, interpreters, or other linguistic services.
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