Into the new world
We joined Hansem Vietnam as graduates with little to no experience in the Localization industry, especially the field of Linguistic Quality Assurance (LQA). If we had to say what our first impression of Hansem was, it would be “Completion”. From an outsider’s viewpoint at the time, Hansem was successful in showcasing the versatility of a leading Language Service Provider, the general concept of “a whole package” with various services and fields, and the feeling of trust. Being freshly out of college, we were fortunate enough to have such a fitting environment to build on the professionalism, work ethics and relationships with amazing co-workers.
The central part of the training program for an LQA member is the language training program in which all the languages available at Hansem Vietnam are divided into groups based on their similarities as well as the vendors in charge. The language training is scheduled following the number of projects during each season and relevant ad-hoc tasks to make sure an LQA member can perform all LQA-related tasks in addition to conducting QA checks. We begin with the Southeast Asian group, then move on to the simple Latin groups, non-Latin ones, CCJK and right-to-left (RTL) languages. We get to participate in real projects in which we take care of the languages trained, until the day we can be in charge of any language that Hansem Vietnam is handling. The whole process may take more or less than a year, depending on several factors such as the frequency of real projects occurrence or the LQA members’ performance during the program. Let’s imagine an LQA member as a Pokémon. We gradually evolve after each stage of Language groups training and reach the final form when completing all practice projects for all languages.
One step at a time
We remember being strikingly overwhelmed during the first few days on the job. There was so much to learn: the workflow of our production team for various types of projects, the specialized CAT tools, the working terms, etc. and most importantly, how they all work together to create a fluid process with all the parties at play. Specifically speaking, the road to becoming a full-time LQA staff was filled with tests and simulations. It seems that getting away from all kinds of exams in schools and University to start your first job which needed you to once again go through rounds of tests (in the form of project simulations) sounds quite stressful. We might feel disappointed when the QA results of practice projects did not live up to expectation. We might feel not very helpful when being able to cover only a limited number of languages in a project. We might feel confused when dealing with issues for the first time and need to seek advice from our teammates.
But “learning by doing and doing by learning” is a part of almost every job, especially for a new-comer. It takes time and effort to adapt to the workflow, to learn the ropes from the smallest things, and to grow from real experiences. Through constant practice and detailed feedback from our trainers, we eventually absorbed the characteristics of each language group, saw why we committed the errors and avoided them in next projects to unlock the following levels successfully. And, we got to know that LQA was never just about hunting mistakes. We learned the way of solving problems, giving our ideas (though they were still lacking), and strengthened our skills day by day. Effective communication is one of the areas we have focused on since it plays a significant role in the job of an LQA staff here in Hansem Vietnam. Writing an email seems simple enough, but crafting an effective one requires much more trial and error. We, as rookies had unknowingly caused numerous issues by vague and confusing emails. Yet, as we keep on sinking our teeth into it, we have learned how to reduce lengthy messages to concise ideas and delivered precise answers to any query to ensure a smooth communication flow with different parties such as MPMs and our vendors.
Of course, the process is not without its quirks: Sometimes, there is a new workflow introduced (Alibaba projects), new software to be learned (Passolo, memoQ, etc.), and each Client has their requirements. Having adjusted ourselves to the company’s culture, we find such occasions as opportunities to increase our ability to change and adapt and to be more flexible when welcoming new challenges.
QA for logographic and phonographic languages – Challenges and realization
One major part of our daily work is QA-ing for various groups of languages, as mentioned above. Surprisingly, each group has its characteristics, especially for specific logographic and phonographic words. Two vibrant examples of them are Burmese and Right-to-Left (RTL) languages.
Burmese is one of the last languages in our training roadmap, which undoubtedly made us feel both nervous and intrigued. Its writing system is super complicated, for example, there are many hidden spaces in the ZawgyiOne text, it is a must to use the arrow buttons to move between letters, rather than using a mouse pointer. This new language also has different fonts (Unicode – Pyidaungsu & non-Unicode – ZawgyiOne) for different types of projects, so it is crucial to make sure the right font is applied appropriately for each project. Thus, we also have many Translation memories for each one of them. Due to the complex nature of Burmese, the Translator is sometimes required in checking the font of the QA-ed clean files. That said, despite the challenges of Burmese, we still regard it as a fascinating language and a fantastic opportunity for us to sharpen our carefulness as LQA members.
Regarding the “Right-to-Left” (RTL), the last group of languages in the LQA training program which includes Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Hebrew, apart from having complicated alphabets, the opposite direction in their writing system can be considered the trickiest part when dealing with these languages. It took us quite many projects to get used to locating the terms and their inflexions in a sentence to avoid catching “false positives”. All the icons such as arrows in the translations of this type must be flipped horizontally to match the natural direction of the text, which can be assisted by QA Checker and QA Distiller. Meanwhile, adding tag pairs might be dangerous for a first-timer if one just innocently copies the tags from the English source text to the target text in all cases, and sometimes the tags might look reversed when there are English words in a sentence. Still, they are indeed in the right order! A useful tip to check the text thoroughly is (once again) to use arrow buttons to move back and forth in a segment to see how the tags and letters are located. These are some of the distinctions we have learned about this group, and the more we get to participate in real projects, the more alert and familiar we are to their features.
Having gone through all stages of language training with a total of around 50 languages, we are amazed and glad to be one of the rings in this vast and multilayer L10N chain.
“One way to keep momentum is to have constantly greater goals” – Michael Korda
Perhaps one of the most important lessons we have learned so far is that when an unexpected issue emerges, rather than seeing it as an obstacle, we should use it as an opportunity to improve upon ourselves and reach new goals. Positivity not only can increase our enjoyment but also lead us to wiser decisions and better results at work. As Hansem is showing significant signs of development, which inevitably requires the efforts of every team and individual to keep up, such right attitudes will always make us eager and ready to open all new doors.
We believe that we are some of the many examples that show at Hansem, chances are available for anyone who has the will and ability to learn and develop. Until now, being members of the production team, our view on the “Completion” concept of Hansem has expanded to the continuous improvements in the making to thrive and reach a perfect state in the long run. This mindset represents our top priority to never stop learning and growing in both technical and personal aspects.
Ho Chi Minh, September 2020
LQA: BÀI HỌC KINH NGHIỆM
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