To develop a high-quality survey that is tailored to the country, follow these four steps:

  • Step #1: Develop an offline Core Questionnaire in the survey’s primary language
  • Step #2: Translate the Core Questionnaire into other languages
  • Step #3: For voice surveys, create audio recordings in all languages.
  • Step #4: Load the content (SMS text, Voice audio files) in the online tool.

This checklist enumerates the steps for Step #2: Translate the Core Questionnaire. In this step, you will translate the Core Questionnaire into the survey languages. The translated questionnaire is then audio recorded (for voice surveys) and loaded into the online tool.

Steps to Translate the Core Questionnaire

  • Identify a firm to translate the questionnaire. Selecting a firm with native speakers who live in the country is essential because of their familiarity with the context and the local vernacular.q Provide the firm with a finalized version of the Master Questionnaire Spreadsheet. Questionnaires should not contain colloquial wording or concepts that may be difficult to translate.
  • Provide translators with clear instructions for translating, e.g., use the same translation text when the English text is identical, and use the same grammar used in English text as appropriate. The firm should have two translators produce independent translations of the questionnaire. Regional language differences should also be taken into consideration during the translation process.
  • Offer translators instructions for how to split SMS messages using the standardized format
  • Clarify conventions in the questionnaire for the translators – i.e., items on the Translation guidelines document 
  • Retranslating the questionnaire into the source language, or back translation, should not be used. Translations should be reviewed in the target language for the survey.
  • Identify one additional person to review each translation. Translations should be reviewed for two purposes: (1) for linguistic verification and (2) for cultural verification. There are different ways of doing these verifications. To check for linguistic accuracy,   translations should be read aloud, comparing the primary language with the translated text and ensuring that the meaning remains the same across languages. The reviewer should be able to detect any issues with the translations and offer modifications for the two independent translations.
  • To ensure that translations are culturally appropriate, translations should be tested with a subset of the target population through focus groups or cognitive interviews. This will provide a secondary assessment of the translations used and allow for additional probing about how respondents perceive the translations.
  • Before finalizing the questionnaire, a final person should conduct a spot check between the English and translated questionnaire to detect minor discrepancies, such as the incorrect number of response categories.