Frequently asked questions

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General

​How do I reach Taalcentrum-VU?

We’re located in Amsterdam’s Zuidas District, in the Metropolitan Building, which is located opposite the Main Building of the university, on the other side of the metro line. See our contact information.

Do you work only for Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam?

Not at all! In fact, most of our clients are not affiliated with VU Amsterdam in any way, shape or form. We have our roots in the university, and we remain on very friendly terms with our neighbours. We do quite a bit of work for various university divisions: we translate research reports, give workshops on scientific writing, organize language proficiency testing and we edit promotional materials. But we also work for businesses and institutions in all sectors, from companies to research institutes, from government agencies to financial institutions, from museums to insurers.

Do you employ students?

Taalcentrum-VU is staffed by language professionals. Our translators, instructors and editors all have a university background and years of experience. Get to know our team
Incidentally, we do work for students. For example, we give English writing courses in many university degree programmes.

​​Can I park my car near Taalcentrum-VU?

You will generally have no trouble finding a parking spot in the vicinity of Taalcentrum-VU. Please note that paid parking is in force during office hours. You will find on-street parking in De Boelelaan and Asingaborg in the immediate vicinity of the Metropolitan Building. Tip: we have excellent public transport connections. Amsterdam Zuid railway station is just a five-minute walk away.

​What is your relationship with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam?

Taalcentrum-VU was founded in the early 1990s as part of the Faculty of Humanities at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The goal: to close the gap between academic expertise and professional practice. To help people communicate better. Now, more than 25 years later, we are an independently operating communication agency employing some thirty language professionals.

Translations

How long do you need to produce a translation?

We work at a rate of between 1,500 and 2,000 words a day in most modern Western languages. Another factor that can affect turnaround time is the availability of translators who are specialized in a specific field. We calculate the turnaround time for each assignment on an individual basis.

Which languages do you translate into?

As a rule, we can provide translations from and into all languages Most of our assignments are from Dutch into English, followed by the other main European languages such as French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. We regularly provide translations into the Nordic languages and the languages of Eastern Europe, and we are equally at home in other major world languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Arabic and Turkish. But rest assured, we also have translators for less common languages such as Albanian, Azeri, Pashto, Urdu, Farsi, Dari, Greek and Bahasa Indonesia. Naturally, we can arrange translations for language combinations that do not involve Dutch (e.g. French to English or German to Spanish).

How can I submit a text for translation?

  • All you have to do is email us the text to be translated, together with the required deadline.
  • One of our coordinators will then provide you with an estimate of the lead time and how much the translation will cost.
  • If you agree, the coordinator will confirm the order and the delivery date.
  • The coordinator may ask you to provide additional information, such as the purpose of the text, the intended audience and any specific requirements involving tone of voice and terminology.
  • The coordinator will select the best translator for the job, based on mother tongue, experience and specialist knowledge.
  • One of our translators, always a native speaker of the target language, will translate the text.
  • The revisor, a native speaker of the source language who is highly qualified in the target language, will check whether the translation meets all quality requirements.
  • You will then receive the translated text in your mailbox.

What is a certified (or sworn) translation?

For some official documents and purposes, a straightforward translation is not enough. Government departments or official agencies sometimes require a certified translation, particularly when the legal status of a document is important. In these cases, the translation is attached to the original document (or a copy of the original) along with a statement by the certified translator that the translation is a true and faithful rendering of the text on the original document. The certified translator also stamps the translation and signs it.

If I send a text today, will I receive the translation tomorrow?

That all depends on the length of the text and the availability of our translators. Of course, we will be glad to help you with urgent jobs, so please be sure to let us know if you need your translation in a hurry.

Can I send you my text as a PDF file?

Yes, you can. However, we would prefer to receive your text as a Word document to ensure full compatibility with our translation software. We will be happy to convert your PDF to Word for a small fee. Alternatively, you might consider doing this yourself.

What is the difference between S spelling and Z spelling in UK English?

In UK English, S spelling and Z spelling refer to different conventions for spelling certain words, e.g. organise/organize, recognise/recognize. Both conventions are correct and widely used. The Z variant is sometimes known as Oxford spelling.

What about American spelling?

US English has its own set of spelling conventions. These include words ending in -or such as color and labor (the UK equivalents are colour and labour) or words ending in -er such as center and theater (as opposed to centre and theatre in the UK). US spelling also uses Z in verbs such as recognize and organize.

The text I want to have translated is similar to another text that has already been translated. Is it useful to provide the previous translation?

It certainly is! We are always happy to receive reference material. If a previously translated text is very similar to the new text, we can upload it into our translation software. This enables us to ensure that the translations are consistent.

How long does it take to edit a text in English?

We always ask one of our editors to appraise a text before we start working on it. They can estimate how long it will take to improve your text so that it meets all the requirements of style, grammar, coherence and register. The turnaround time will depend on these factors and the length and content of your text.

What does revision entail?

Revision is a final check of the quality of a translation. Our translators are native speakers of the target language. Once they have completed a translation, we send it to a revisor, who is a native speaker of the source language. The revisor checks the entire translation to ensure that it is complete and that there are no errors of interpretation.

What is overrun?

Experience shows that a translated text is often somewhat longer than the original. This is called overrun. It can be caused by language-specific rules of syntax or conventions of style. More often, however, it is caused by the need to provide explanations for culture-specific terms and concepts in the source text. Various languages have different average rates of overrun.

How do you ensure that terms are translated consistently?

To ensure consistency, our translators work with the latest translation software. This enables us to build up a database of the texts we have previously translated. By referring to this store of knowledge, we can be sure that all your terms are translated consistently. This is not an automatic process: it is an aid to the professional translator who always handles this information with care to ensure that the correct terms fit the context in which they are used and are adapted where necessary.

How do you ensure the quality of your translations?

We work in full compliance with the European standard for translation services (NEN 15038). This means you can be sure that your translation is always translated by a native speaker of the target language and is always checked by an experienced and highly qualified revisor. We also make use of the latest translation tools to ensure consistency of style and terminology. This quality control and second check are included in our price, as are project management and aftercare.



What should I do if I am not fully satisfied with the translation?

If you feel the need to make changes to a translation after delivery, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can take this information into account for your next assignment. We regard the processing of such feedback as aftercare and it is therefore included in the price – unless it takes more time than you might reasonably expect from us. If, for example, changes are made which detract from rather than improve the quality of the translation, we will charge for rectifying these errors.

I have a complaint. What should I do now?

If you have a complaint about our work, please let us know as soon as possible. Our complaints procedure states that you are required to notify us of any complaints within ten working days of delivery. After that we are no longer obliged to accept your complaint. If your complaint is well-founded, our procedure states that you should give us the opportunity to improve or replace our translation or editing work within a reasonable time. If we are unable to do so, we will offer you a discount that is appropriate to the nature of the complaint. Please note that this right to redress no longer applies if you have reworked the translation in question or have had it reworked by a third party. Experience has shown that under those circumstances it takes too long to assess the nature of the reworked text. If your complaint proves unfounded, you may be charged for the additional time we have had to invest in the complaint. Our full complaints procedure can be found in our terms and conditions.



How will I be billed?

Once you have received our translation, you will be sent an invoice for the number of words translated or the number of hours of correction. Our term for payment is 30 days. If you would like the invoice to be sent to another contact person or another address, please let us know when you place your order.

Training courses

Do you also offer workshops and courses in other foreign languages?

Sorry to disappoint! Taalcentrum-VU only offers workshops and courses in English, Dutch and Dutch as a second language (NT2).

Do you offer courses in Dutch as a second language (NT2)?

Ja, we certainly do! As a private course, customized for one person (or two, or three) or as a customized group course.

What about the format of your courses and workshops?

  1. We provide courses and workshops for groups on an in-company basis (i.e. at your location)
  2. For groups based on open-enrolment (for employees of various organizations and self-employed people)
  3. On an individual basis

How many participants are there per workshop?

We generally provide our private workshops to one person, but sometimes to two or three. The number of participants in group workshops can range from four to twenty, depending on the type of workshop.

To what extent do you customize your workshops?

We always tailor our in-company workshops to your organization’s specific needs based on interviews, intakes and example texts. We also provide a number of standard workshops – although we will be pleased to tailor them to your organization’s specific needs.

Where do the workshops take place?

Our private workshops usually take place at Taalcentrum-VU’s offices or at the participant’s location. In-company group workshops take place at your location. Open-enrolment group workshops generally take place in Amsterdam near the campus of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Do participants need to prepare prior to the workshop?

We ask participants to complete an intake form and to send us examples of their own texts. Participants will have an interview with our instructor prior to English courses and Dutch as a second language (NT2) courses.

What are the fees?

We offer private workshops at a fixed hourly rate of €99. We will be pleased to provide you with a quote for in-company group workshops. The fees for group workshops based on open-enrolment are listed on our website.

Who are the instructors?

We work with a regular team of highly qualified and experienced instructors, all of whom are CRKBO-registered.

What kind of course materials do you use?

We invest a great deal of time and energy in developing all of our own course materials. We provide our participants with all the materials they need, either on paper or digitally, depending on their learning needs and the specific workshop. Occasionally we provide participants with off-the-shelf lesson materials and reference books.

What about evaluations following the workshop?

We ask all of our participants to fill in an evaluation form at the conclusion of the workshop. We provide the client with an evaluation report following an in-company group workshop. Naturally, we are prepared to evaluate a workshop with you personally at any time.

I have a complaint. What should I do now?

We have been working with many of our clients to their full satisfaction for years. Nevertheless, we never rest on our laurels and we consistently strive to maintain the highest quality in our work. Despite our best efforts, however, there may be instances when we fail to meet your expectations. We will do our utmost to resolve these situations, and we will appreciate hearing about your complaint as soon as possible. Our complaints procedure states that you are required to notify us of any complaints within ten working days of delivery. After that we are no longer obliged to accept your complaint. If your complaint is justified, then our procedure states that you should give us the opportunity to improve things within a reasonable time. If we are unable to do so, we will offer you a discount that is appropriate to the nature of the complaint. Our full complaints procedure can be found in our general terms and conditions, which we will be pleased to provide you with upon request.

Why should I take a Taalcentrum-VU workshop?

Because our writing and communication workshops will really help you improve your proficiency. We will work with you to identify exactly what you need to learn. And we will ensure that you learn it through our tried-and-true method of learning by doing. You’ll practice with texts and situations taken from your own work environment. Our instructors and course developers are passionate about their work and have years of experience. Furthermore, our quality is independently recognized: we’ve scored top marks for years in CEDEO educational quality surveys.

Editing

What kinds of texts do you edit?

Any text written in Dutch. From short letters and emails to lengthy consultancy reports and memorandums, from blogs to annual reports, and from web texts to insurance policies.

I have a text in another language that needs editing. Can you help?

We certainly can! Just get in touch with our translation team.

What exactly does editing entail?

You can contact us for all kinds of text editing. We can correct your texts to make them shine like flawless gemstones. Or we can improve your text’s readability by rewriting it, adjusting sentence length and by making sure the key message is in the right place.

Do you also write copy?

Yes we do! We can create a text from scratch based on your briefing, written input, an interview or a combination of sources. This is a common approach for brochures, websites, articles for professional journals, annual reports, training guides, corporate anniversary editions and the like.

What are your fees for editing?

Our hourly rate for editing is €80, excluding 21% VAT. We work at a speed of between one and four pages per hour, depending on the type of text and the required approach.

We make words work for...

Request a translation

For some official documents and purposes, a straightforward translation is not enough. Government departments or official agencies sometimes require a certified translation, particularly when the legal status of a document is important. In these cases, the translation is attached to the original document (or a copy of the original) along with a statement by the certified translator that the translation is a true and faithful rendering of the text on the original document. The certified translator also stamps the translation and signs it.
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