How to develop effective bilingual materials?

The other course I am taking this semester is about designing instructional materials. I am learning design principles and learning how to create audio and visual materials. Addressing a personal interest, I am searching for information on how to properly design instructional and informative materials for bilingual audiences. Reynolds (2010) recommends when creating bilingual slides, one language needs to be visually subordinate to the other in order to avoid visual discord. I think this applies when thinking through a restrained design focused on impact and harmony, but what are the implications in terms of the audience linguistics needs?

I read an interesting article focused on how to write and design bilingual exhibitions developed for the exhibit team at the Miami Science Museum of Florida. I agreed with the author that the idea of both languages are equally important when you are planning and developing bilingual resources. Even if the primary intention is to provide guidelines for the museum’s bilingual English-Spanish audiences, these guidelines can be replicated to develop any virtual or in site bilingual resource. At the end of the article Plaza (2009) summarizes the team’s recommendations when developing writing and design for bilingual audiences. The guidelines provided are listed bellow:

Writing Guidelines

Write in the first language and then convey meaning, not literal translation, in the second language.
Reformulate the text in the first language based on insights gained from interpreting the text into the second language.
Voice, tone, and style should be the same in both languages.
Use universal terms whenever possible and the most familiar regional variations when necessary.
Create concise, digestible chunks of information.
Determine word count based on visitor behavior, graphic design, and readability.
Test and modify as necessary.

Design Guidelines

Develop consistent size, arrangement, and aesthetics for all interpretive text.
Give equal weight to both languages in terms of font size, headlines, etc.
Clearly separate the two languages visually. Consider using different colors for the backgrounds and/or text.
Be consistent with the placement of graphic elements.
Avoid repeating the same images on one panel.
Test and modify as necessary.

To read the whole article visit http://www.astc.org/blog/2009/07/30/in-other-words-developing-bilingual-exhibitions/

2 responses to “How to develop effective bilingual materials?”

  1. Rosanna,
    I found your blog entry very intriguing. I must confess that I have never really thought a lot about the nature of bilingual writing for bilingual education; but, what you stated in your blog makes total sense – “Write in the first language and then convey meaning, not literal translation, in the second language. Reformulate the text in the first language based on insights gained from interpreting the text into the second language. Voice, tone, and style should be the same in both languages.”

    One question I have: If you are teaching bilingual Spanish/English speakers in the United States, how do you determine which is the first and which is the second language? Would English be the first language because it is is spoken in the surrounding culture or would Spanish be the first language because the learners speak Spanish at home?

    In any case, a very interesting blog. Thanks!
    Pat

    Like

    1. Patricia, thanks for sharing your ideas! Normally it is considered the native language the one that is spoke at home, even if the student is proficient in more that one language. In bilingual houses like mine (my husband is an English native speaker, and I am Spanish native Speaker) the student is identified according to their dominant language skills.

      Like

Leave a Reply to rmsalas72 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: