Key takeaways

  • Translating school surveys is beneficial for a variety of reasons, for example, to promote inclusivity.
  • When given a school survey in their strongest language, ELL school community members can better understand what they are being asked and give more accurate feedback.
  • Our free Survey Builder tool makes translating surveys easy with in-platform, quick-turnaround translations into over 40 languages.

You may know the benefits of surveys in school communities, but do you know the advantages of translating them? Translating school surveys is beneficial for many reasons and for most school districts, although communities with a large population of English-language learners will particularly benefit from translations. This blog will highlight some of the biggest advantages of translating school surveys, before discussing how the in-platform, 24-hour translation service available on our Survey Builder tool can help your district.

Promote inclusivity

Firstly, one of the biggest benefits of translating school surveys is that it helps English-language learners feel more welcome and included in their community. This is equally as important for those both new and old to the US education system. Translating your school surveys into other languages shows respect for ELL students or the families of students from international backgrounds whose strongest language may not be English.

Furthermore, moving to a new country and living in a community that speaks a language different to your native one, as well as navigating a completely different school system and culture, is often more difficult for the adults involved than it is for the children. This is because children are often highly adaptable to new environments and will be exposed to US culture and the English language by attending school. However, adults do not always have this opportunity and may struggle to assimilate and feel at home in their new environment. Offering them school surveys in their preferred language is a quick and easy way to help them feel just that little bit more comfortable and welcome.

In turn, this builds a stronger, more connected school community, where more people (regardless of native language and background) feel welcome, included, and engaged. Multilingual survey translations show that your school district sees any language or cultural differences as enrichments to a school community, not barriers to one. Additionally, when young learners who have only recently moved to the US feel that their family and themselves are being welcomed into their school community, they will naturally get more enjoyment and value out of their education in the long run. There are many benefits to an engaged school community for students of all ages, including higher academic success rates and better wellbeing, and this is no different for international students.

More accurate data

Another benefit for district leaders in translating school surveys is that they’re more likely to collect more accurate, informed data. When people understand the questions they’re being asked, they can give accurate feedback. Inversely, asking someone to fill in a survey in a language in which they may not have a high level of understanding will likely bring back rushed, inaccurate data leading to unactionable insights to work on. So, allowing community members to give survey answers in their strongest language means they can express themselves in the way that’s best for them and provide data insights that are best for district success.

Satchel Pulse's Survey Builder

Relieves mediator burden from students

Many US students who come from international backgrounds and/or from ESL families, often act as cultural mediators, translators, and interpreters between their schools and their family members. This is called ‘language brokering’ and is often the case in environments where professional translators and interpreters are not available. It leaves a heavy burden on these students, especially those with “poorer psychological health… who held strong family obligation values or who perceived parents as highly psychologically controlling,” (Hua, 2012). Not only this but when students frequently engage in language brokering they are more likely to experience parent-child conflict (Hua, 2012). Translating your school surveys can therefore help relieve language brokering burden on students and take away a potential thorn in their relationship with their parents.

Furthermore, it’s not unheard of for students in this situation to miscommunicate between languages, whether on purpose or accidentally, since their understanding of one language may not be at the same level as another. Don’t forget - young learners are still learning their native language! Language brokering can also make young learners feel that they have to mature quickly since they have some level of responsibility over their families. This could be mentally damaging in the long run and could lead to behavior such as aggression and risk-taking attitudes (Dynamic Language, date unknown). On the other hand, in some cases students may even incorrectly translate some messages, such as detentions or behavior warnings, to avoid getting into trouble with their families. This is another reason why having your surveys translated by a professional translator, and not a student, is advantageous.

Translating your school surveys into other languages shows respect for ELL students and their families.

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Increase cultural awareness and empathy

Empathy is a great CASEL subskill that everyone, young or old, can always work on developing, and cultural awareness is an important relation to empathy. Translating surveys helps strengthen cultural understandings and sensitivities throughout the whole school community, thanks to the way they give all community members the chance to speak up. Making this effort can also allow students to hold onto their cultural identity by recognizing their familial background, rather than presuming they will shift their entire identity to suit the most dominant culture that surrounds them. This facilitates learning and communication between these students, their teachers, and their families, thus improving social awareness in the community.

How can I translate my school surveys?

It’s easy to translate school surveys with our free Survey Builder platform! Just write the survey as normal and then, once finished, simply choose the languages into which you would like your questions translated. We currently have over 40 languages on offer, and you can choose as many of those as you’d like. The display will then show you the estimated cost (this is worked out per word, per language). Most translations will be completed and sent back to you within 24 hours. Once you’ve received your translation, you’ll not only be notified via email but you’ll also be able to view it on the Survey Builder tool itself and can preview it just as you would your English-language survey.

Interested in quick and easy survey translations in your district? Fill out the form below and we’ll get in touch with you for a no-obligation Survey Builder consultation.


Dynamic Language. Date unknown. The Dangers Of Using Children As Their Parents’ Interpreters. Read it here.

Hua J.M., Costigan C.L. 2012. The familial context of adolescent language brokering within immigrant Chinese families in Canada. Read it here.


Author: Fern Dinsdale

Posted: 29 Aug 2022

Estimated time to read: 6 mins

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