The Lord has given WOL Hungary some very good and professional translators. Their goal is to accurately translate not only your spoken words, but to capture the feeling of what you want to communicate to the students.
Overall, the level of English among Hungarian students continues to increase each year. At the present time, probably 80% of them will understand much of what you say before the translation, even though their ability to speak English may be somewhat limited.
Some students who study in English as a second or third language may still struggle with comprehension, so it is helpful to try to avoid idioms and more difficult vocabulary. As you get used to teaching in an international setting, this will become more natural, even after just a couple of days.
The written translation process, which includes the formatting of the material, is one of the most demanding aspects of the guest teacher program. In general, our resident faculty uses and recommends “evacuated outlines” that we bind together for students to use in their note-taking. This allows the students to do the vast majority of the writing, and therefore, the translation of the material only has to occur once rather than twice.
Due to time constraints related to the translation of written material, and our other ministry responsibilities, we ask teachers to not include whole paragraphs to be translated in the student notes, with blocks of text limited to only 2-3 sentences at a time.
We realize that some teachers prefer to fully write out their courses and then teach from that material, but we discourage having the full text available for the students for several reasons. It usually leads to the teacher simply reading material that the students could otherwise read on their own. It also tends to hinder the process of true ministry and relationship building through student interaction. And finally, it is simply too much work for our translators.
Because of significant differences in grammatical structures between English and Hungarian, fill-in-the-blank type notes generally do not work well. Alliteration, although perhaps a mnemonic device in English, is impossible to replicate in a foreign language. Culturally-specific idioms with specialized meanings are also a problem both for translators and students.
Teaching / Preaching
Our guest teachers come with a wide variety of experience working with a translator. Some have little or no experience, while others have done it many times in various contexts. Whether you have worked often with a translator, or if this is your first time, you will quickly develop a sense you are working as a team. Once you get into a rhythm, you almost forget about the translator being there.
Many hold the misconception that translation reduces teaching time by as much 50% Because of our experienced translators, the lost time seldom exceeds 25% and is often less, largely due to natural pauses in speech. This also allows the teacher to focus more on his next sentence, allowing him to remain more focused in general. Because students are able to take notes during translation, the teacher does not have to wait for the students to “catch up”, and the actual lost time is often less than 20%.
Tips for Speaking through a Translator
Some people are quite at ease speaking through a translator, even for the first time. Others, however, can find it difficult, frustrating, and even intimidating. Below are some tips and suggestions that should be helpful whether you have spoken through a translator on many occasions, or you are preparing for your very first time.
1. Whether personally or in a teaching / preaching situation, remember that you are speaking with the person / audience -- not with the translator. Therefore, even when the translator is speaking to you (translating what has been said to you), keep your attention directed to the person with whom you are speaking. Likewise, direct your conversation, not to the translator, but rather to the person with whom you are speaking. This applies in private conversations as well as to group discussions and Q&A sessions.
2. Try to use simple present, past and future tense verbs in the active voice as much as possible. Hungarian does not have as many verb tenses as English. Neither does it have a passive voice. It is possible to express certain ideas passively in Hungarian, but it is rarely done and sounds awkward. (For example: In English we would say, “My bike was stolen.” - a passive construction to avoid direct accusation. In Hungarian we would say, “They stole my bike.” - an active construction - where “they” are anonymous.)
3. When possible, express one complete idea in each phrase, using simple subject-verb or subject-verb-simple predicate structured sentences. Try to avoid the use of sentences with long dependent clauses, and if you do use one, do not pause for translation before the dependent clause. Otherwise, it is is very difficult to translate, and it is better if the translator hears the entire sentence first.
4. Try to avoid parenthetical comments within the body of sentences.
5. Be prepared to restate ideas in several ways so that the meaning is sure to come across. Be ready with synonyms when your translator gets stuck on a word. However, realize that if you simply use synonyms to restate your ideas, the translator may be limited to using the same Hungarian word over again.
6. Avoid slang terms and idioms as they are often not understood because they usually use poor grammar or ideas and subjects that are only relevant in a given culture. Beyond this, a literal translation can even convey the opposite idea on occasion.
7. Be careful in the use of illustrations and humor. Many illustrations and humor are more culturally specific than we tend to think. Generally, it is best to avoid illustrations, anecdotes, or humorous stories that are dependent upon familiarity with people, places, situations or events that would be unknown or unimportant here in Hungary. If an illustration does not work, do not try to explain it, just use another one.
8. Avoid the use of direct quotations, especially lengthy ones. Go ahead and paraphrase the main idea because your translator will be doing this anyway. If you must use a long direct quotation, make sure that you have it typed out and available for the translator to be able to read and translate. Because of this reason above, quotations of songs or poems as illustrations do not usually work very well.
9. Though patriotism is an admirable quality at home, unnecessary or repeated references to the way things are "there" can come across as being a bit arrogant in another culture. Try to avoid making value statements that may be construed as comparisons between the qualities of one society or culture and another.
10. Remember that words have meaning only in context and that the social, political, and religious context of one country can be far different from that of another. For example, the terms "conservative," "liberal," and "evangelical," probably have different connotations here than what you would mean if you used these terms without qualification. Another example is the word "baptism." In Hungarian, there are two entirely different words, depending on whether you mean infant or believer's baptism. The same can be true of religious groups and denominations. So attempting to correlate certain bodies of belief with a denomination title will not work in all cases. There are far fewer denominations in Hungary, but the variation of belief within a denomination can be as broad as between denominations in the U.S.
11. Remember that alliteration as a mnemonic device has no value when translated. In fact, alliteration will probably make things more difficult for your translator because less common words are often needed in order to "make it work." It is best to alter your material and use the most simple and clear terms possible.
12. Be patient! Foreign words and structures may be longer than English. Let your translator finish. At other times, if you go on for a long time without a break, a good translator will remember the most important points and summarize what you have said.
13. Our full-time translators are experienced and professional. However, there may be occasions when you will be working with less experienced translators, who can be self-conscious about their own abilities, especially if they think there is a better translator in the audience. Please be sensitive to this.
14. Pray with and for your translator. This is not just your ministry, but your translator's as well. The Holy Spirit will be working through both of you. For those who only understand the translator, he is their teacher / preacher.
15. Always thank your translator. Translation is a lot of hard work.