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6 Intriguing Stories of Localisation and Technological Discovery By Kasia Bania

6 Intriguing Stories of Localisation and Technological Discovery By Kasia Bania

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Our Guest
Kasia Bania
Kasia Bania
Senior Localisation Manager, Memrise
Our Host
host image
Alpi Mantry
Chief Human, Translate By Humans
"In a world where communication bridges gaps and opens doors, the field of localisation stands as a pivotal force."

In our fifth tale, we’re thrilled to welcome Kasia Bania, a seasoned expert and the Senior Localisation Manager at Memrise, to share her remarkable journey and profound insights within the localisation industry.
Join us as our CEO, Alpi, delves into an enlightening conversation with Kasia, where we’ll uncover her experiences, strategies, and opinions on the evolving realm of localisation and the impact of AI in the language industry. Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways:

Key Insights:

Welcome to the show, Kasia. Can you start by sharing your experience and progress within the localisation industry, specifically focusing on your position at Memrise?

My journey into the world of language and localisation has been quite an adventure! I started by studying Arabic philology, diving into the fascinating realm of languages. After graduating, I dabbled in freelance work before finding my groove at LionBridge, a Language Service Provider.

But then, my story took an exciting twist as I followed my heart to the UK from my home country, Poland. There, I leapt into the world of transcreation at a vibrant agency. My focus? Crafting punchy short copies, delving into creative expressions, and understanding cultural nuances. This was my gateway into the captivating marketing and creative translation world, where every word danced with meaning.

As I grew, so did my dreams. I joined Hogarth, a marketing and implementation company, where I learned about production, localisation, and transcreation. The world was my canvas, and I was painting it with language.

But then, a new chapter called. A startup vibe beckoned me, and I found myself at Memrise, a language-learning app in London. My role as a Localisation Manager meant shaping how the world learns languages – quite a task, right? It’s been a whirlwind of challenges, innovation, and growth, and I can’t wait to see what the next language-filled chapter holds. 

That's interesting. So, how does your day look at Memrise?

Every day in the localisation world is like stepping into a whirlwind of tasks at Memrise. My role as a localisation manager is like being part of a fast-paced and inventive adventure. Challenges come knocking everyday, but I have a method to keep things sailing smoothly.
Picture this: I’ve got a routine where I meet with my language team twice weekly. Those days are all about setting them up with clear instructions for their work. The rest of the time, I dive into quality checks and bounce ideas around with the team. Now, the folks I work with are primarily freelance language experts.
Being buddies with these freelancers has its perks. I get to understand what they’re excellent at and where they might need a bit of backup. Plus, even though they’re freelancers, we’ve been a crew for ages. It’s like they’re part of the Memrise family. We chat daily, and they’re even using our language-learning app, which is neat. This means they’re not just working on translations but also using the app, giving us insights like only users can.
Now and then, when the vast projects roll in, I’ll tap into external agencies. It’s all about having the right pals for the right tasks. So, while most of the time I’m with my freelance squad, I’ve got these agency buddies I can call on when things get super-sized. It’s a juggling act, but it keeps the localisation show running smoothly at Memrise!

What are the top three attributes you prioritise when choosing a language freelancer, considering that direct communication and ongoing collaboration can be demanding?

We seek someone with a strong background in translating marketing content and user interfaces. Ideally, they’d be based in their home country to bring that extra edge of local market insight. This is vital in shaping our market strategy and practical approach. Good communication skills are essential, as we coordinate requests on specific weekly days. Meeting deadlines is important, but let me know in advance if there’s a hiccup. Building trust and transparency is crucial, especially since they’ll collaborate with other teams in our company.

When working with a language you're unfamiliar with, how do you ensure accurate quality assurance and make sure that the translated content provided in that language is usable and reliable?

In our localisation process, we use a TMS tool to catch common errors and ensure everything’s smooth. Our top-tier market gets extra attention from native-speaking experts, especially for important content. But the real quality test is hearing from users – how they react to our words and messages. We listen well by watching forums and customer messages, showing gratitude for their input. It’s like crafting a perfect tune – we fine-tune it till it hits just right!

Sure, so do you use localisation for your customer support as well?

Last year, we worked on something cool – translating our Zendesk articles into ten languages. This was a big deal because we wanted to solve a problem. Many people worldwide were asking us questions, and our customer service team  was spending a lot of time answering them.

We decided to provide helpful guides and articles in the top ten languages people use. And guess what? It worked! The number of questions went down, and our customer service team could spend more time on important things like planning and improving how we work.

What is your perspective on AI translations, especially considering the current widespread discussions about chatbots like ChatGPT and their role in this field. So, what are your thoughts on AI-powered translation technology?

AI is a big game changer, even more than when we switched from humans doing translations to machines. It’s a good idea to get into AI and learn about it. The localisation community is very friendly and helpful. They have webinars, events, and networking, all for free. This is exciting for localisation managers. But sometimes, there’s a lot of new information every week, which can be overwhelming. Remember, if you approach it with curiosity and fun, it’s not so scary.

Technology is here to make our lives better.

Whether you’re a linguist, localisation manager, or LSP manager, think about how your role might change in an AI world. Learn the skills you’ll need for the future in this new AI-dominated world.

Will AI positively impact the language industry and provide long-term benefits? What's your call on that?

I work at Memrise, and we use technology to help people learn languages. We’ve created a cool feature, Membot, where users can practice speaking with different characters in various situations. People like it, and it helps them learn faster. I’m also trying out AI translation for other tasks. While we still need human translators, AI is changing how they work, making them more like language specialists who guide AI-generated content. This lets us easily create content for different markets instead of just translating from English. This is a significant change because many localisation managers find the content too focused on English. With AI, we can overcome this issue.

That's right. In the future, which areas can machine translations effectively cover, and in which areas will we still rely on human translators?

Some types of content, like UI text and product information, are complex because they need to fit the context perfectly. Right now, it’s hard to imagine AI replacing human translators because understanding context is crucial for accurate localisation. There’s no tool, yet that does this well. Also, when it comes to creative translation and making unique content, AI struggles. It can’t honestly think creatively as humans can.
If I were a linguist, I’d focus on transcreation and creative copy, becoming a copywriter and linguist. AI can generate straightforward marketing content, but I’ve tried it, and it still needs to be more trustworthy, especially for less common languages, AI quality drops.

AI is good at generating a lot of content, but it's not always accurate.

Other methods, like machine translation, can be precise, depending on the content.

Indeed, another aspect to consider is what’s known as “hallucination.” This means AI sometimes gets creative and comes up with things that don’t make sense to us, and we don’t understand why it does that. So, it’s true that there are domains where we better stick to what we know.

As the amount of data continues to increase rapidly, it's likely that you collaborate with different groups. Have you encountered any difficulties when working with teams from different areas?

As a Localisation Manager, I also go by “Localisation Evangelist.” This means I’m responsible for managing translations, educating my colleagues, and being part of important decisions about content and strategies. I work at a company called Memrise, which has a startup vibe, making it easy for me to work closely with other teams daily.

My approach involves meeting new team members when they join our company. I introduce them to the localisation process, learn about their goals, and explain my needs. I want them to see that I’m not just someone who causes delays at the end of a project. I want to be involved from the start to ensure everything goes smoothly.

What’s great about working at Memrise is that it’s all about languages. Since everyone here is interested in learning languages, they understand the importance of localisation. This makes it easier for me to explain why my role matters. People here are open-minded about different languages, and having colleagues who can speak multiple languages is beneficial.

We briefly discussed the fast pace of technological advancements. How have you been leveraging technology to your advantage in your current localisation role or throughout your career?

Sure! Using standard tools like TMS and translation memories is essential to improve your work. Learning about AI is helpful, even if you still need to become an expert.

Stay curious, proactive, and have fun with it.

I dedicate two hours a week to experimenting and developing new ideas. I also connect with like-minded colleagues on a Slack channel. We share articles and insights about AI. I recently compared different AI providers for translation quality. It can be overwhelming, so finding good resources like newsletters or LinkedIn experts can help you stay updated and understand the trends.

“Collaboration and learning from others is precious in this journey.”

What advice would you offer to your younger self or the current community?

No need to stress; things will turn out fine! Just let your curiosity bloom, ask lots of questions, and gather skills like treasures. Learn from folks around you, and you’ll rock it. That’s all I can say!

Anything in particular for a localisation project manager?

Try to join meetings with other teams to learn how they work and why. Make sure they understand what you need too. At Hogarth, I started with medical translation, but then we expanded into making content for healthcare professionals. It’s important to be open to new tasks, even if you don’t know how to do them initially.

Stepping out of your comfort zone might be hard, but in a year, you'll thank yourself for that.

As we draw the curtain on this enlightening discussion with Kasia Bania, we’re reminded of the ever-evolving nature of the language industry, its deep-rooted connections with technology, and the pivotal utilisation poised to play. With her extensive experience and strategic role at Memrise, Kasia has navigated the dynamic landscape where language, technology, and culture converge.

Imagine the worlds yet to be discovered, the languages waiting to be bridged, and the stories yearning to be shared—all bound by Kasia’s insights. Are you ready to embark on your own tale of linguistic and technological exploration?

On the other hand, do you aspire to conquer global markets? Your content deserves to transcend linguistic boundaries and resonate with audiences worldwide. Here at Translate By Humans, we’re not just translators, we’re transformers. We firmly believe that investing in translation and localisation isn’t just a step – it’s a smart leap towards global success.

Book a complimentary call now, and let the localisation magic begin! ✨

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