Becoming A TED Translator

Who can translate for TED

Language skill: No formal language training is required to translate for TED. But we do ask that all translators be fluently bilingual. It’s essential that your language skills enable you to translate not only the words of speakers, but the tone, style, personality and of course — underlying meaning.

Time commitment: We don’t require an advance commitment, in terms of speed or number of talks translated. You’re welcome to translate just a single, favorite talk! But we do require each volunteer to translate an entire talk (partial translations aren’t useful to us), and to complete each translation within a month of when it was assigned.

Collaboration: To ensure quality, we require a second pair of eyes on each translation. Pairs can work together, or we can assign a reviewer. In either case, the translator and reviewer are expected to confer with each other on any changes, and respectfully navigate any disagreements that may arise.

How translating for TED works

Our system makes it relatively simple to translate talks. We provide an authoritative English transcript, tips for effective translation and a simple online interface for line-by-line translation of subtitles.

You can request to translate or review a talk using our Translator Dashboard, and will receive an email from us once it’s been assigned to you, pointing you toward the online interface for subtitling. (This will be on the site of our technology partner, dotSUB.) If you’re new to the translation project, we’ll send you a questionnaire to fill out before we assign you to translate your first talk. When you’re done with a translation, you’ll click “Mark this translation complete” on dotSUB to let us know that it’s ready for review.

Before publishing your translation on, we will have another translator review it. We encourage you to work together to ensure everyone is satisfied with the quality of the translation.

Getting credit for your work

This is a volunteer effort, so we don’t pay translators for their contributions (similarly, TED speakers aren’t paid to present). But we place a tremendous priority on crediting translators for their work.

All translators and reviewers will be credited on the web page for a talk they’ve translated. So, for example, if you translate or review the Italian translation for Karen Armstrong’s talk, your name will appear on that web page when someone is watching the Italian translation (e.g., “Italian translation by Marco Federighi and Bruno Giussani.”) The first name indicates the primary translator, and the second indicates the reviewer.

All translators and reviewers will be listed on our TED Translators page, as well as the index page for their individual languages.

All translators and reviewers will have a special page on their TED member profile, listing their translations

But most important, every translator will be taking part in our global effort to spread ideas and engage in a global dialogue. We know from our current translators that there’s a huge satisfaction in bringing inspired talks to speakers of their own language worldwide.