Developing OER for Translation and Localization Students


Students who are training to work in the language professions must necessarily learn about the general concept of localization, even if they don’t go on to work as localization specialists. However, in some cases, it can be challenging to find educational resources that can be used to help students acquire and apply these basic concepts. As we all know, certain language varieties are more common than others, and as a result, there tend to be more resources or tools available to support localization into these more common varieties.

As a translation educator working in Canada, I have long noted the relative scarcity of resources that focus specifically on Canadian English or Canadian French. Like most of my colleagues, I handled this by cobbling together a hodge-podge of readings, exercises and examples to share with students in my courses. However, in 2020, the library at my home university – the University of Ottawa – announced a funding opportunity to encourage professors to develop Open Educational Resources (OER). Curious, I began reading through the background information on OER provided by the library.

Learning more: What are OER?

As described by UNESCO, OER are teaching, learning and research materials in any format – digital or otherwise – that are in the public domain or that have been released under an open license that allows others to access, use, adapt and redistribute these materials for no cost and with few or no restrictions. Along with Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), Open Access (OA) and Open Data (OD), OER form part of the spectrum of ‘open solutions’ designed to promote universal access to information to help level the playing field around the globe. In November 2019, UNESCO adopted a Recommendation on OER which contributes to the achievement of a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 4 (Quality education) and SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities within and across countries), among others.

Taking the plunge: Can I develop an OER?

As part of the funding opportunity, the library offered to provide support for learning how to use Pressbooks – a user-friendly platform to develop e-books – as well as support for choosing the type of Creative Commons licence best suited to the OER, and assistance for indexing the resource in range of public digital libraries that would make it easy to share and discover the OER.

When I considered the advantages such as the possibility for rapidly disseminating information, the ease of access to the content, and the cost saving for students, it seemed like a “no brainer” to try to compile an OER to introduce students to a range of tools and resources that would support efforts to translate or localize material into the Canadian varieties of English and French.

My application for an OER grant was successful! With support from the library, I learned how to use Pressbooks and in August 2021, I launched the first version of the OER “Translating for Canada, eh?” (French version available here). This free e-book briefly introduces the concepts of translation and localization and then presents a range of free online tools and resources, including term banks, bilingual concordancers, tools for comparing language varieties, machine translation tools, and language portals. In each case, the tools and resources that are presented have a distinctly Canadian flavor to help those needing to translate or localize material into Canadian English or French. The initial version has been released in English, but a French version is currently in development.

Over to you: What can you contribute?

For me, the production of the OER was quite straightforward and a wholly positive experience, and the Pressbooks analytics show that in the few short weeks since its release, “Translating for Canada, eh?” has already been consulted widely. I hope this will inspire others in the translation and localization professions to capture and share aspects of their own expertise in other OER, and in so doing, to contribute to the professional development of their peers and the preparation of the next generation of translators and localizers.