Each academic subject in educational publishing has its own particular features, and Modern Foreign Languages are no exception.

Publishers want to ensure that foreign language content is not only grammatically correct but also reads naturally to a native speaker. After all, there is no point in modelling wrong or stilted language. At OOH, we arrange for manuscript or proofs, or sometimes both, to be checked by a mother-tongue speaker of the relevant language.

Our native speakers are usually experienced editors, and many have been teachers of their native tongue to speakers of English. This means that they are just as aware of when not to change a text as when to intervene. For instance, it wouldn’t be helpful for students if the native speaker rewrote a passage in a tense that students won’t encounter until the next key stage!

We take a lot of care in-house when incorporating native-speaker suggestions into copy-edited manuscript or proofs. The mother-tongue speakers are, of course, the experts in their language, but we need to be cautious of adopting all suggestions. Often the checkers will offer alternative words and phrases, and then we will use our judgement based on our in-depth knowledge of the content, the target readership and the specification.

Sometimes a particular word or phrase may have been used by the author to match the vocabulary list or rubric in the exam specification, for example. In general, though, the native speakers will pick up on little things, perhaps relocating an aussi or a schon in a sentence, so that it simply sounds a lot more authentic.

We find that our native speakers are always happy to answer questions if we need to check language with them as we work on the manuscript or proofs, or even later on. And a happy by-product of the process is that we are also continuously learning from them.

If you need experienced project management help with MFL projects, we would love to hear from you. Likewise, we are always interested in hearing from native speakers with editing experience.

Photograph attribution: Dictionaries, © mickangel, provided under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.