Translation Survey Response

At the end of August, we carried out our first translation satisfaction survey for 5 languages (Norwegian, Russian, French, German and Italian). We want to thank everyone who took the time to complete the survey, we were happy to get 30 responses from centres in 8 countries, which was an excellent response rate.

The feedback is invaluable, helping us to see areas where improvements can be made and there are several themes that came out of the survey. We were already aware of some of these themes, and there were other that help us to get a better understanding of the challenges training centres face.

Here are the most common areas the feedback covered:

Technical Terminology

What you’ve said: The terminology used in the assessments isn’t always used correctly or consistently, sometimes it needs to be more precise.

What we are doing: We’ve started working on a glossary of key terminology used in the assessments and this will be used to make the translation more consistent. To start with we’ve looked at the terminology that is used in the existing translated question bank to see where improvements can be made.

What are the next steps? As soon as the glossaries are agreed with the translators we will ask you for your feedback to see where they can be improved. There are often several terms that can be used to describe a single piece of equipment so we will provide guidance on how the glossaries are to be used in the translation process.

Who does the translation?

What you’ve said: Translators should have a mastery of both languages and industry experience in drilling and well intervention.

What we are doing: All of our current translators have many years of experience in the industry and we would like to stress that we do not use Google Translate or any similar automatic translation tool to translate any question bank content.

What are the next steps? Our current group of translators have a huge amount of technical experience and we want to benefit from that experience as much as possible. We are working with a well-established translation company to identify qualified translators who could work with us under the guidance of our experienced translators. That will allow us to develop our translated content while maintaining high standards of linguistic and technical quality. Questions will also be tested before being made live. The question banks also undergo an audit process on a regular basis.

Translation quality

What you’ve said: More than half of the centres agree that the translation quality is unsatisfactory and can be improved.

What we are doing: Each candidate has their own personal language preferences, and these determine if they consider a translation to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In some cases, this is a purely subjective opinion. Our aim is to use industry standards to create translations that are linguistically and technically accurate, which is why we’ve spent time looking at how we manage translations at IWCF and have created a dedicated translation team. The goal is to improve in ways that can be objectively measured which is why we’ve focused on terminology and internal resources that contribute to translation quality.

What are the next steps? As soon as we have agreed glossaries we will use these to proofread and check the translated question banks. This should improve the grammar, spelling and technical consistency of the question bank. We are working on new processes to make sure new questions are translated, checked by a technical consultant and then tested before being used in the question bank. Future surveys will be used to monitor improvements and continue to gather feedback.

Role of assessment centres and insturctors

What you’ve said: You have said you would like instructors to have a wider role in providing feedback on the quality of the questions candidates encounter in the assessments.

What we are doing: IWCF is an assessment body so we need to make sure that assessments are viewed as an independent means of evaluating a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the syllabus. Involving instructors in the translation review process needs to be done in a way that maintains the independence of the assessment while providing suitable feedback on the quality of the translation. In the past we have run feedback sessions with instructors.

What are the next steps? We plan to run some feedback sessions with instructors to gather feedback specifically on aspects of the translation. We also intend to survey assessment centres more frequently to obtain feedback on the changes we are implementing.

Translation Feedback

What you’ve said: We send in lots of feedback about translations, but nothing seems to change. Our feedback is ignored.

What we are doing: All candidate feedback is logged and investigated. Where appropriate it is discussed by our technical consultants and if necessary, questions are updated or changed. From time to time the question bank is audited. We take all feedback seriously and a great deal of time is spent looking into feedback.

What are the next steps? Not all translation feedback is valid, sometimes it reflects an individual’s personal opinion and preferences on how they think the translation should read. A lot of comments we receive are also very vague and don’t pinpoint a specific issue. You can help us by making your feedback as specific as possible, so we know what issues are causing problems.

Language ability of candidates

What you’ve said: In some cases, candidates sit the assessment in their second or even third language. This makes it difficult for them to understand the content or it means they spend a lot of time trying to understand the questions.

What we are doing: Unfortunately, there is little we can do about this. The assessments have a technical component and need to accurately reflect the programme syllabi. We use established guidelines when writing questions for our assessments, aim to use simplified language where possible and try to limit the length of questions as much as we practically can. However, it is the candidate’s responsibility to make sure they are suitably qualified to sit the assessment they have chosen to take, including the ability to understand the language used in the assessment.

Translation is a professional activity that requires more than the ability to speak two or more languages. The translator needs to be a linguist, a writer, a technical expert and a researcher. We are grateful to our current translators, many of whom have volunteered their services to IWCF despite holding senior positions in the industry. It takes time to improve translation quality, but we are making progress and we appreciate your feedback and patience as we make these improvements.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss the translation process in more details, please contact us at